Renowned television presenter and actress Annabel Giles has tragically passed away following her battle with a stage four glioblastoma, casting a spotlight on the complexities and challenges of brain cancer. This devastating news has raised many questions about brain tumours, their types, and the impact they have on individuals and families.
Annually, the United Kingdom witnesses approximately 12,300 new cases of brain, other central nervous system (CNS), and intracranial tumours, averaging to about 34 new diagnoses each day, as reported by Cancer Research UK (CRUK).
This statistic underscores the critical need for continued research and awareness. Brain tumour survival and mortality rates present a complex picture. According to NHS UK, about 15% of individuals diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour survive for a decade or more.
However, there are about 5,500 deaths each year in the UK related to these tumours. Notably, survival rates are higher among those diagnosed under the age of 40.
Brain Cancer Symptoms
Symptoms of brain cancer can be varied and often include headaches, seizures, nausea, vomiting, and changes in mental behavior, such as memory issues or personality shifts.
Patients may also experience progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, and difficulties with vision or speech. These symptoms highlight the invasive and disruptive nature of brain tumours. Brain tumours are categorized from grades one to four, based on factors like growth speed and the likelihood of spreading.
Grades one and two are considered low grade, while grades three and four, like glioblastomas, are high grade. Glioblastomas, which comprise about 78% of malignant adult brain tumours in the UK, are particularly aggressive and known for their rapid growth and tendency to infiltrate other brain areas.
Treatment for brain tumours varies depending on factors such as the type and location of the tumour, its size, the abnormality of the cells, and the patient's overall health. Common treatments include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, symptom management medications, and steroids.
In terms of research funding, the UK government committed £40 million towards brain cancer research in May 2018. However, Brain Tumour Research, a British charity, has called for increased funding, seeking £110 million to enhance national investment in brain cancer research to £35 million annually by 2028.