MPs are demanding action to make brain tumour research a “critical priority”, after a landmark report showed child survival rates have remained unchanged for decades.
Derek Thomas, chair of the all party parliamentary group on brain tumours, urged the government to ringfence £110m saying a lack of funding into new treatments has meant families with dying children have had to seek treatment abroad.
“A total of £40m in investment has been promised since 2018,” he said.
“This gave cause for optimism and heralded a very welcome shift in focus especially considering the historic underfunding of research into brain tumours which has received just 1% of the national spend on cancer research since records began.
“However, our investigations have revealed a concerning lack of deployment of these funds with just £15m reaching the hands of researchers in the five years since it was promised.”
Matthew and Louise Fox took their son George first to Germany and then to Los Angeles when they could not find clinical trials to treat his brain tumour in the UK.
“We never expected to be disadvantaged by living in England,” Louise told Sky News.
“We always thought we had an amazing health care system, which I still believe we have, but in the area of brain tumours and brain tumour research, and advances in what’s happened in medicine in that area, it has been absolutely shocking.”
Matthew told Sky News the travel separated them from their other children during an already difficult time for the family.
“Not only did George have this terrible illness, he had to spend quite a lot of time without his siblings. And we had to spend quite a lot of time without our kids.”
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Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We’ve invested in every suitable application made and the funding will continue to be available for further studies to develop new treatments and therapies for brain tumours.
“To encourage further successful applications, we are investing in infrastructure, workshops for researchers and training for clinicians.”