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Focus Areas


Break Through Cancer’s initial focus is on four intractable cancers. These cancers all share common features – a low five-year survival rates, little to no early detection, and a lack of recent progress or innovation in treatment.



Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most aggressive type of malignant tumor originating in the brain or spinal cord. A GBM makes its own blood supply, which helps it grow and spread rapidly. While GBM can occur at any age, it tends to occur more often in adults between the ages of 45 and 70. The five-year survival rate is 5.5%. GBM occurs in two to three per 100,000 adults per year, and accounts for 52% of all primary brain tumors.



This is a disease in which, depending on the type and stage of the disease, malignant cells are found inside, near, or on the outer layer of the ovaries. With few options for early detection, ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen. When diagnosed early, ovarian cancer is more likely to be treated successfully. Late-stage ovarian cancer is more difficult to treat and can be fatal. Ovarian cancer accounts for about 3% of women’s cancers and is the deadliest of all gynecologic malignancies.



The pancreas releases enzymes that help with digestion and manufactures hormones that manage blood sugar. Pancreatic cancer begins when abnormal cells in the pancreas grow and divide, forming a tumor. Pancreatic cancer is rarely detected early, as there are typically few symptoms until after the cancer has spread. Pancreatic cancer is the 11th most common diagnosed cancer in the US, and the third leading cause of cancer deaths each year.


Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia begins in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow and quickly moves into the bloodstream, where it can quickly spread within the body to the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, central nervous system, and testicles. AML accounts for 1% of all cancers and has as five-year survival rate of less than 30%.


Break Through Cancer was created in February 2021 with an extraordinary matching gift of $250,000,000. Every gift to the Foundation supports groundbreaking cancer research and helps us to meet our matching commitment.

For questions about giving please email Lisa Schwarz, Chief Philanthropy Officer at

Break Through Cancer
101 Rogers Street
Suite 3A
Cambridge, MA 02142