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Brain Tumours

Volume 554: debated on Tuesday 27 November 2012

Forgive me, Mr Speaker, but as you can hear—you may indeed be pleased to hear this—I am losing my voice. This is a serious matter, as you know, and I pay tribute to all the work you did on behalf of people suffering from brain cancer. The Government are proud to have been behind some important initiatives, such as promoting among general practitioners direct access to MRI scans. From January next year we are introducing a pilot scheme to alert people to the particular symptoms of common cancers, and we are confident that that will improve awareness about brain tumours.

I thank the Minister for her answer, but in the UK about 4,800 adults and 100 children lose their lives to brain tumours each year. Brain tumours kill more children than any other cancer, kill 65% more women than cervical cancer and kill more males under 40 than any other cancer, yet only 0.7% of Government funding goes to brain tumour cancer research. Will the Minister meet my constituent, Romi Patel, and others who have had brain tumours to discuss with them what more the Government can do to save lives?

The short answer is yes, I am more than happy to meet my hon. Friend’s constituent to discuss this matter. The figures she relies on for the amount of money going into brain tumour research are based on 2006 data, but the simple answer is that of course we can do far more. I pay tribute to the great advances made by a number of charities, including Headcase Cancer Trust, in my constituency, and others such as the Joseph Foote Trust. They are all raising considerable amounts of money specifically for research projects such as the one at Portsmouth university. I am more than happy to meet my hon. Friend’s constituent. This is an important topic on which we can do more.

I thank the Minister for her answers, including her very generous and gracious remarks. I wish her a full and speedy recovery.

Does my hon. Friend the Minister agree that Penny Brohn Cancer Care, based near Bristol, which offers a unique combination of physical, emotional and spiritual support designed to help patients live well with the impact of cancer, is an organisation that should be supported? Can she confirm that such organisations are eligible for funds from the cancer drugs fund?

It is important that we consider all aspects of how we can treat cancers. We also need to bear in mind the people who care for those with cancer, as we sometimes forget them. Any organisation—especially in the charitable sector—that offers treatments that help people and their families and carers is to be welcomed.