Background

Why research?

Brain tumours: the Cinderella cancer

At a parliamentary debate on brain tumour research funding in April 2016 Health Minister George Freeman MP praised the “extraordinary campaigning” of so many individuals and charities who were: “lifting a torch and joining a magnificent history of people who, through their suffering… drive campaigns and raise awareness, leading to increased funding.”

Brain tumours affect people of all ages. We are focused on producing more effective treatments. To do this we need a better understanding of:

  • What causes tumours?
  • How does the brain react to tumours?
  • How do tumours behave?

Their cause is still unknown, there is currently no effective cure for malignant brain tumours and patient survival has not changed appreciably over the last few decades.

  • Brain tumours affect the organ that is the essence of the “self”:
    • Thought
    • Emotion
    • Physical function
  • The most common therapy for cancer, surgical removal of all or part of the organ, is difficult to apply
  • Tumours are largely resistant to the other usual cancer treatment options – chemotherapy and radiotherapy

Some statistics

  • Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer
  • Yet just 1% of the national cancer spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease
  • 16,000 people each year are diagnosed with a primary or secondary brain tumour
  • Less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond 5 years compared with an average of 50% across all cancers
  • Brain tumours represent 1% of all cancers diagnosed, yet 3% of all cancer deaths
  • Up to 40% of all cancers spread to the brain
  • 3,600 people a year die from a brain tumour
  • 1 in 50 of all people who die under the age of 60 die from a brain tumour
  • 71% of those that die of a brain tumour are under the age of 75 (compared to 47% for all cancers)
  • Brain tumours are responsible for over 20 years of life lost on average – more lethal than any other cancer
  • Unlike most other cancers, incidences and deaths from brain tumours are increasing
  • At the current rate of spend, it could take up to 100 years for brain cancer to catch up with developments in other diseases and find a cure

Source:  Brain Tumour Research – Invest in a Cure Manifesto March 2015