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If only brain tumour research could be funded in the same way as leukaemia and other cancers

Improving Cancer Outcomes Backbench Debate

On Thursday 5th February MPs engaged in a debate on improving outcomes for cancer patients. The debate was arranged by the Backbench Business Committee following a bid from MPs including John Barron, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer, and Rebecca Harris, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours. The debate was an opportunity for MPs to share ideas on how the NHS and Government can move care and treatment forward to improve cancer outcomes across the country.

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John Barron introduced the debate, acknowledging the Macmillan Cancer Support analysis that the number of cancer patients in the UK is increasing, rising to 2.5 million this year, while survival rates have increased 10% since 1997, saving around 10,000 lives a year. The debate moved on to comparing survival rates across Europe and to the benefits of early diagnosis before Rebecca Harris rose to speak on brain tumours. Mrs Harris spoke passionately about Danny Green, a 10 year old from her Castle Point constituency who died in 2012 after being diagnosed from a brain tumour, and the disparity between survival rates between brain tumour and other cancers. Quoting statistics from our reports Mrs Harris stated that brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40, with five year survival rates of 18.8% compared to 50% for all other cancers, and argued that £35 million of investment into research is needed to close this gap.

Jane Ellison, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Public Health, responded on behalf of the Government to some of the issues raised, focusing largely on early diagnosis of brain tumours and the establishment of two proton beam therapy centres set to open in 2018. We would like to thank everyone who secured and took part in this critical debate, in particular Rebecca Harris for speaking about the realities facing brain tumour patients in such an important setting. We hope that by raising the profile of brain tumours in Parliament we will no longer be fighting for a ‘forgotten’ cancer and that the resources we need to save lives will become available.

The full debate can be accessed here.

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