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Press release

Less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years

Charity condemns lack of progress in year since “damning” report on the underfunding of research into “neglected” cancer

Mar 1, 2017
One year on from the “damning” House of Commons Petitions Committee report on funding for research into brain tumours, a national charity is demanding urgent action to tackle the issue. Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.

At the launch of Brain Tumour Awareness Month today, Brain Tumour Research is calling for a step-change in research investment to fight the disease, criticising decades of chronic underfunding. The Petitions Committee selected this issue for their first-ever report last year, concluding that “successive governments have failed brain tumour patients and their families for decades”.

Yet in the twelve months since the Petitions Committee report, national spend on brain tumour research has gone backwards, according to the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI). Their latest figures reveal that the total national spend on cancer research allocated to research into brain tumours decreased to just 1.37% in 2015.1

The financial burden of research investment into brain tumours has fallen heavily on the third sector. In 2015, charities funded 86% of the national research into brain tumours, while the 14% of Government spend on brain tumour research represented just 0.52% of its total spend on cancer research in 2015. 

Shocking brain tumour campaigners in an announcement late last year, Cancer Research UK estimated that deaths from brain cancer will remain static over the next 20 years, with just one in five surviving the disease for five years.2

Sue Farrington Smith MBE, Chief Executive of Brain Tumour Research, said: “For too long, brain tumours have been a neglected cancer. It is inconceivable that we should allow this situation to continue unchallenged and abandon the 60,000 people living with this disease in the UK. While we applaud the wonderful advances for many other diseases, through the fantastic research breakthroughs of recent years, it is now time for brain tumour patients and their families to see results.

“Cancer Research UK has conceded that mortality rates for brain cancer are likely to remain unchanged over the next 20 years, despite its prediction that death rates overall from cancer in the UK will fall by 15% by 2035. This disparity is unacceptable; we must offer a fairer deal to brain tumour patients.”

Brain Tumour Research is highlighting stark statistics around this neglected cancer, stating that fewer than 20% of brain tumour patients survive beyond five years of their diagnosis, compared with 86% of breast cancer patients. The charity also confirmed that the number of people dying from brain tumours increased by 27%, with the number of new cases rising 19% since 2002. 

Mrs Farrington Smith continued: “Better outcomes are the result of painstaking research in the lab and the clinic. We need a significant boost to dedicated research investment, and increase the number of researchers in this area, to achieve these for brain tumour patients. 

“With the backing of 120,000 people, who signed the original petition demanding more funding for research into brain tumours, the Government set up a Task and Finish Working Group to address this issue. It is recognised that we need to build capacity, developing a new generation of brain tumour researchers while attracting and retaining talent to the field. This challenge requires dedicated action across the board, from both charities and the Government.”


Brain Tumour Research is campaigning to see the national spend on research into brain tumours increased to £30 - £35 million a year, in line with breast cancer and leukaemia. The charity, which receives no Government funding, is building a network of experts working at world-class Research Centres of Excellence in the UK, with four already established.

“Brain Tumour Awareness Month is an opportunity to raise awareness of this devastating disease and its chronic underfunding”, said Mrs Farrington Smith, “so we can offer game-changing new treatments for patients in the future. Brain Tumour Research is focused on supporting sustainable research that will bring us closer to a cure for brain tumours. We are asking the general public to get behind this cause and help us offer new hope for patients.”
 
Brain Tumour Awareness Month will culminate in Wear A Hat Day on Friday 31st March. The big day will see schools, workplaces, families and individuals across the UK fundraising and taking part in fun events to raise awareness of brain tumours and help fund life-saving research.

To get involved, or donate, please visit: www.wearahatday.org

-ENDS-

1. Brain Tumour Research’s analysis of the total national spend on cancer research allocated to research into brain tumours reveals a decrease of 0.17%, from 1.54% in 2014 to just 1.37% in 2015. Annual statistics sourced from: http://www.ncri.org.uk/what-we-do/research-database/
2. Cancer Research press release, 20th December 2016

For further information, please contact:

Caroline Marrows at Brain Tumour Research on 01908 867221 or 07714 743764 or caroline@braintumourresearch.org

Notes to Editors

 

Brain Tumour Research is the only national charity in the UK focused on funding sustainable research to find a cure for brain tumours. We are building a game-changing network of world-class Research Centres of Excellence in the UK. Embracing passionate member charities nationwide, £5.5 million was raised towards research and support during 2016.

 

We are campaigning to see the national spend on research into brain tumours increased to £30 - £35 million a year, in line with breast cancer and leukaemia. The charity is celebrating a year of high-profile campaigning on this issue following the unprecedented success of its petition in 2016. Following that, Brain Tumour Research is now taking a leading role in the Government’s Task and Finish Working Group convened to tackle the historic underfunding for research.

 

Key statistics on brain tumours:

 

  • Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer
  • They kill more children than leukaemia
  • They kill more men under 45 than prostate cancer
  • They kill more women under 35 than breast cancer
  • Just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease
  • In the UK 16,000 people each year are diagnosed with a brain tumour
  • Less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years compared with an average of 50% across all cancers
  • Incidences of, and deaths from, brain tumours are increasing.
Please quote Brain Tumour Research as the source when using this information. Additional facts and statistics are available from our website including our latest Report on National Research Funding. We can also provide case-studies and research expertise for media. 

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