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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.



Ovarian cancer is the deadliest gynecologic malignancy. It is often not diagnosed until it has spread to other organs. Recent studies suggest that ovarian cancer may originate in pre-cancerous lesions of the fallopian tube, opening up possibilities for novel prevention strategies.



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)

AML begins in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow and disrupts the body’s ability to form mature, functional blood cells. As a result, initial symptoms of AML include fatigue and anemia. AML is the most common type of acute leukemia in adults and has a five-year survival rate less than 30%. Very often, patients whose initial treatment appears successful will experience a relapse of the disease.


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