In a House of Commons debate yesterday, I appealed for more funding to go into research around brain tumours citing the example of an Oldham man to illustrate the issue. You can watch my contribution here.
Brain tumours, including central nervous system and intra cranial tumours, account for 40% of all cancer deaths in children and are the leading cause of male deaths for 20-29 year olds and the biggest cancer killer for under 40 year olds.
In spite of these statistics, research into brain tumours accounted for only 1.5% of all cancer research funding or £7.7m out of £498m in 2014, according to the Brain Tumour Charity’s research.
I told my fellow MPs that it is clear that in addition to raising awareness about brain tumours, more research into preventing and treating brain tumours needs to be undertaken.
Behind all the data there are people, their families and friends. I was contacted by one of my constituents who was diagnosed with a brain tumour last year. He wants to remain anonymous because he has a young family and his condition has had quite an impact on everyone around him. He told me, he has gone from a fit healthy individual to one who struggles to do many of the everyday things a dad wants to be able to do with their children. He was diagnosed last year, at the age of 40, with a Grade 2 Oligodendroglioma.
After an 11 hour craniotomy at Salford Royal, during which he was awake, he has spent much of the last nine months fighting infection and undergoing extensive physiotherapy to help him to learn to walk again and to enable him to live a relatively normal life. He starts a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy at The Christie this week to try to control the regrowth of this tumour. Unfortunately the nature of these things means that it is almost certainly already regrowing. And yet he says he is one of the lucky ones with hopefully, as he says, ‘a decent number of years ahead of him’, but nothing is guaranteed and he may well require further surgery in the future.
He told me ‘Access To Work’ has been invaluable enabling him to stay in work. But as we know Access to Work is only available for a tiny proportion of disabled people in a similar position. He wanted me to speak on his behalf and the many thousands of people with brain tumours, many younger, and many far less fortunate than he.
At the conclusion of the debate, the Minister responded that he would be setting up a group to review issues raised in the debate including increasing funding for research, extending clinical guidance for GPs, and increasing access to diagnostics.
Since the debate, the constituent has thanked me for raising his experiences in the debate and hopes that Parliament’s focus on the issue will lead to a future where fewer lives are damaged or destroyed by this disease.