Brain tumours are overlooked, says Horam dad

Nigel Boutwood at the Parliamentary dinner
Nigel Boutwood at the Parliamentary dinner

The Horam-based dad of a brain tumour survivor, along with scientists, patients and carers, met MPs to demand answers to why brain tumours remain such an overlooked cancer?

This week a select group of MPs, brought together by the national charity Brain Tumour Research, met campaigners at the House of Commons to highlight discrepancies in cancer research funding. MPs were presented with a set of stark facts and the charity encouraged a discussion how government can improve outcomes for the 16,000 people diagnosed with a brain tumour each year.

Nigel Boutwood, trustee of Brain Tumour Research, who attended the parliamentary dinner, said: “My son Charlie was diagnosed with a malignant medulloblastoma brain tumour as a baby, undergoing surgery, followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Against all the odds he survived and made a remarkable recovery. Today he is a fit and healthy 23-year-old, enjoying life and starting out on his career, having graduated from university.

“We set up Charlie’s Challenge, a member charity of Brain Tumour Research, in 1993 to raise funds for research into children’s brain tumours. I look forward to the day when ‘lucky families’ like ours are in the majority.

“I’m convinced greater funding will lead to better outcomes for patients and ultimately a cure – as has been the case for other more well-known cancers.”

The event, organised by Brain Tumour Research, outlined key policy changes the government could make to champion the fight against the disease, including a pledge to increase research funding to £30 - £35m a year over ten years. This is the investment needed to prevent the devastation of brain tumours affecting future generations.

Tragically, Nigel says, brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40 and yet national cancer research spend on brain tumours is just one per cent. Five-year survival rates for patients lag behind other cancers at just under 20 per cent while the average across other cancers is 50 per cent. While survival rates for many cancer patients have improved significantly in the last 40 years, brain tumours remain almost as deadly as they were in 1970.

Nigel wrote his message: “20 years and we need a brighter story” on a Christmas bauble to hang on a Tree of Hope at one of Brain Tumour Research’s Centres of Excellence. These messages join others from hundreds of supporters presenting a united voice for greater action.