A £45 million boost for research into brain tumours, the biggest cancer of children and adults under 40, has been welcomed by West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas, the APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group) chair on the issue.
Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced that an estimated £20 million in funding will be invested through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) over the next five years – with the aim of doubling this with further investment from Cancer Research UK once new high-quality research proposals become available.
Mr Thomas, who met Health Minister Lord O’Shaugnessy at the Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry earlier this week to talk about the proposals, has long championed the need for greater investment into brain tumours.
“Brain tumours represent just 1 per cent of all diagnosed cancers yet result in 3 per cent of cancer deaths – with 3,600 people a year dying from a brain tumour,” he said.
“While survival rates from other forms of cancer are at record levels, it is a shocking statistic that of the 11,400 people diagnosed with a brain tumour every year, just 14% of people survive their disease for 10 or more years.
“At the same time, research into brain tumours receives only about 1% of all cancer research funding and at the current rate of spend, it could take 100 years for brain cancer to catch up with developments in other diseases and find a cure.
“I am very pleased to hear the Minister’s announcement which comes in the wake of an excellent report from the Government’s Task and Finish Working Group on Brain Tumour Research and which should bringing renewed hope to everyone who is diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Mr Thomas, who pressed the Prime Minister on the need for more funding in a parliamentary question last year, has lobbied on behalf of brain tumour patients for several years, attending the opening of the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at Plymouth University in 2014. In addition, for the past few years, he has been an enthusiastic supporter of ‘Wear A Hat Day’, raising awareness and funds for brain tumour research.
“This new funding will mean that efforts to improve outcomes for those with brain tumours can be accelerated,” Mr Thomas added.
“The focus of these efforts will be on encouraging the clinical and scientific communities to explore new avenues for diagnosis and treatment in the future – as Jeremy Hunt says, it is a chance to create a genuine step change in survival rates for one of the deadliest forms of cancer.”