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National brain tumour research funding needs to increase to £35 million a year

Blood test can detect more than 50 cancer types

It has been widely reported today that a study conducted by researchers in the US and the UK has revealed a new blood test that can detect more than 50 types of cancer offering new hope for early detection.

The test is based on DNA that is shed by tumours and found circulating in the blood and the chemical changes to this DNA, known as methylation patterns.

The test, which could be rolled out within the next two years – although it is likely to take longer through the lengthy validation process – will not only tell whether someone has cancer but what type of cancer they have.

The study tested more than 4,000 samples from patients - some with and some without cancer with more than 50 types of cancer, such as bowel, lung and ovarian.

It is not clear if brain tumours were included although this would seem extremely likely. We welcome this potential advance in early diagnosis. We do know this could make a real difference for those with an asymptomatic brain tumour that is easily accessible to surgical intervention and is of a shape and type suitable for complete resection.

However as with any advances of this type our note of caution is that, for brain tumour patients, we must have better, new clinical interventions, and choices of these, if we are to improve the woeful brain tumour survival statistics. This will only come through increased and sustainable funding of the discovery science of the type we fund at our research centres.

In the Report of the Task and Finish Working Group on Brain Tumour Research released February 2018  our position was summed up perfectly by  brain tumour activist Peter Realf who said: “While I endorse the need to improve earlier diagnosis, this alone without a cure will simply mean that patients face a longer walk to the grave.”

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