COMMONS

Brain tumour research funding inadequate and not given sufficient priority

14 March 2016

The Petitions Committee publishes its report "Funding for research into brain tumours", revealing the distressing experiences of people whose lives have been affected by the disease, as well as exploring the reasons behind the historic underfunding of research under successive governments.

Report key findings

Key areas covered by the report include:

  • Awareness and diagnosis
  • Funding levels
  • Barriers to research
  • Setting research priorities
  • Burden of disease
  • Availability of therapeutic drugs

This is the Committee’s first ever report. The petition "increase funding into brain tumour research" now has over 120,000 signatures, and will be debated in Parliament.

Watch the launch event 

Background to the report

The inquiry was triggered by a petition started by Maria Lester, whose brother Stephen Realf lost his life as a result of a brain tumour. The Committee took evidence on diagnosis and awareness of the condition, as well as on current funding levels, research priorities and the challenges facing brain tumour charities.

The report now calls for the Government to give a clear statement of whether it believes that current levels of funding are adequate, and if not, asks what it will do to ensure that funding for brain tumour research increases.

The Committee heard moving examples of the difficulty that patients had had in being diagnosed with a brain tumour, as well as clinical evidence on the challenges involved in identifying the condition early. It recommends that measures be immediately taken to increase awareness amongst health professionals of the symptoms of brain tumours. The report concludes "patients with brain tumours are failed at every stage – from diagnosis and treatment to research funding", placing the onus on the Government to take remedial action to correct decades of under-funding.

Chair's comment

Helen Jones MP, Chair of the Petitions Committee, said:

"The Petitions Committee’s first report makes clear recommendations to the Government about the lack of funding for research into brain tumours. As part of this inquiry we heard testimonies both from victims of this terrible disease, and from clinical specialists working in the area.

The evidence was clear – something must be done to improve outcomes for patients, and barriers to research must be removed. This report was initiated by the public; it is a vitally important issue and I hope the Government takes our recommendations seriously."

Petition's founder, Maria Lester's comment

Maria Lester, who started the petition with the support of the charity Brain Tumour Research, said: 

"Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of people under 40, and it is vital that funding for research is swiftly increased. I welcome this important report by the Petitions Committee, and would like to thank its members for the care and hard work that has gone into compiling it. The evidence makes for powerful reading, and I hope that it will pave the way for fast and meaningful action.

I would urge the Government not to turn a blind eye, but to look at ways in which the UK could become a world leader in brain tumour research. It may be too late for my brother Stephen, but it is not too late to save others from this cruel disease."

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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