Government to double brain cancer research funding to £40m a year in memory of Dame Tessa Jowell

New £65m fund to fight disease in Labour peer's honour includes £25m contribution from Cancer Research UK

Tom Barnes
Sunday 13 May 2018 22:33
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Dame Tessa Jowell dies at the age of 70

The government will double its investment in brain cancer research to £40m a year in honour of former cabinet minister Dame Tessa Jowell.

Plans unveiled are set to boost funding for studies into tumours and provide British patients with more treatment options after the Labour peer lost her battle with the disease on Saturday.

Theresa May had announced the government would pledge £20m to help fight brain cancer following a meeting with Baroness Jowell in February.

However, the Prime Minister has now doubled the government’s contribution to the programme, which, when added to an extra £25m offered by Cancer Research UK, means the fund will initially be worth £65m a year.

“Tessa Jowell was one of those few politicians who could inspire and unite across party lines,” said health secretary Jeremy Hunt, announcing the project.

“We were all moved by her bravery and selfless campaigning in her final months, and are determined to honour her life and memory with the action on brain cancer that she fought so hard for.

“At this agonising time, I hope her family can draw comfort from the fact that her legacy will be lives saved and heartbreak averted for thousands of other families.”

Research will also be backed by new clinical commitments from the government, including the national rollout of gold standard dye, a key brain cancer diagnosis test used to identify tumour.

The method is currently only used in around half of brain cancer centres in England.

The use of adaptive trials, in which several different treatments are tested on a patient at the same time to speed up the process, is also set to be accelerated.

In addition, the UK will host an annual Tessa Jowell “global symposium” under the plans, aiming to bring together top brain cancer experts from around the globe.

Dame Tessa was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, a rare, high-grade tumour and malignant cancer that can spread quickly to other parts of the brain and spine without warning, in May 2017.

In a speech in the House of Lords in January that was met with a standing ovation, she called for new cancer treatments to be made available for patients on the NHS.

A spokesman for her family said the former Olympics minister had died peacefully at her home near Shipston-on-Stour in Warwickshire on Saturday evening after falling into a coma the previous day.

Around 11,400 people in the UK are diagnosed with brain tumours each year. Only 14 per cent of those with the disease currently survive for 10 or more years.

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