Cancerous brain tumours are difficult to diagnose and often require immediate treatment. Adults with suspected brain and central nervous system cancers are urgently referred for an MRI scan of the brain for assessment1. For diagnosed patients, the survival statistics2 are:
- 14% of patients survive for ten years or more;
- 19% of patients survive for five years or more; and
- 40% of patients survive for one year or more.
Earlier diagnosis is a key priority for NHS England. We are investing £200 million in transformation funding for earlier diagnosis and better post-treatment care and support for cancer patients.
The National Cancer Programme has established a number of initiatives to support ambitions of improving earlier diagnosis including:
- The Accelerate, Coordinate, Evaluate (ACE) programme tests a new, multi-disciplinary diagnostic centre approach to diagnosing patients. The model is focussed on patients with vague or unclear but concerning symptoms, to ensure they receive a diagnosis as quickly as possible; and
- The Faster Diagnosis Standard aims to ensure that patients that are referred for an investigation with a suspicion of cancer, including brain tumours, are diagnosed or have cancer ruled out within 28 days, and we are continuing to move towards national implementation, with a new measurement system going live in hospitals from 1 April 2018.
The Government is also supportive of HeadSmart, a United Kingdom-wide campaign to reduce diagnosis times of childhood brain tumours. The campaign aims to raise national awareness of the common signs and symptoms of a brain tumour in children and young people by equipping parents, the public and healthcare professionals with the information they need.
Finally, last week the Government announced a package, alongside Cancer Research UK and Brain Tumour Research, to boost research and investment into brain tumours. We will commit £20 million, through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), over the next five years – with the aim of doubling this amount once new high-quality research proposals become available. Cancer Research UK has also confirmed £25 million over five years in major research centres and programmes dedicated to brain tumours. This research will make new discoveries that the NIHR can then translate into treatments for patients.