Every year in the UK, around 400 children are diagnosed with brain cancer. Many face prolonged and gruelling treatment with surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy. While treatment can prove life-saving, it can also cause serious, long-term side effects.
Sadly, around one in every four children diagnosed with a brain tumour lose their lives within five years, making brain tumours the most deadly of all childhood cancers.
Professor Andrew Peet, of the University of Birmingham, is developing a way to tailor treatment more closely to the needs of each individual child. He believes this could save the lives of children with the most aggressive tumours and spare those with less severe illness from unnecessary treatments.
“A diagnosis of brain cancer is devastating – not just for the child, but for the whole family. Going through treatment is really tough. It completely changes children’s lives over months or even years.
Children who make it through treatment remain at risk of experiencing long-term problems; for example they can have difficulties with movement, balance and coordination, and with learning, hearing and vision. With so much at stake, we need to ensure all children with brain tumours get the best possible treatment and information for them and their families.
Children with brain cancer have MRI scans routinely when they are first diagnosed. The scans provide highly detailed pictures of tumours inside the brain. We are developing a way to get even more from MRI scans, using a sophisticated technique that provides information on the chemical make-up of tumours. We believe this information could be of great value, because it could enable us to predict how aggressive each child’s cancer is likely to be much sooner and more accurately.
Early information about a child’s outlook for the future would enable us to tailor treatment more closely to his, or her, individual needs. Children with the most aggressive tumours could immediately be given the most intensive treatment, which could boost their chances of survival. Children whose tumours are not so life-threatening could be given less intensive treatment, sparing them from some of the lifelong disabilities that treatment can cause.”
If Jack’s story has made you feel inspired to do something more then take action with one of the following:
Share Jack's story with your friends and family and help spread the word about Action Medical Research
Fundraising is a great way to spread the word and support us - and you don't have to be active to take part! There are fundraising ideas for everyone. Find out what's going on in your area or you can even set up your own event.
Become an Action volunteer in your community! Being a volunteer could involve anything from speaking at an event to cheering on our marathon runners.
I hope you enjoyed finding out more about my research. What a great decision you’ve made to support Action Medical Research. Your ongoing support will give hope to families like Jack’s. Research like mine is only possible with support such as yours.