This petition was submitted during the 2015-2017 Conservative government

Petition Fund more research into brain tumours, the biggest cancer killer of under-40s

Brain tumours kill more children and adults under 40 than any other cancer. One of those young lives lost was my brother Stephen, who was diagnosed at just 19 and died aged 26. More funding for research is urgently needed - read on for some shocking statistics from the charity Brain Tumour Research:

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• Unlike most cancers, brain cancer incidence is rising.
• Less than 20% of those diagnosed with brain cancer survive beyond 5 years.
• In 2014, brain tumours received 1.5% (£7.7 million) of the £498 million national spend on research into cancer. At this rate, it could take 100 years to catch up with developments in other diseases.
The charity is calling on the Government and larger cancer charities to raise investment to £30-£35 million a year, and this petition aims to support its campaign.

This petition is closed This petition ran for 6 months

120,129 signatures

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Parliament debated this topic

This topic was debated on 18 April 2016

Government responded

This response was given on 7 September 2015

Government funders, charities and industry are working together to turn world-leading research into vital new treatments for brain tumour patients.

Read the response in full

The Government and charities work closely together in brain tumour research and other fields of cancer research through the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI). Factors influencing the level of research funding are discussed in Strategic Analysis 2002: An overview of Cancer Research in the UK directly funded by the NCRI Partner Organisations:

There are a number of factors that dictate the level of research funding into a particular issue. These include:
• scientific opportunity – this can be a very important factor. In particular, developments in fundamental research and the introduction of new technologies often stimulate new approaches;
• the burden of disease – the incidence and severity of a type of cancer will influence both researchers and funders;
• researchability – some tumour types are easier to work on than others but can often provide a model system for other cancers, and many researchers are attracted to areas or diseases where there is real evidence or potential for progress;
• fundraising – certain types of cancer may attract more public donations than others; and
• the quality and size of the research workforce – because of the issues listed above some areas attract more high quality researchers than other areas. This will undoubtedly affect the number of quality proposals received by funding bodies.

NCRI partner organisations take these factors into account when making funding decisions. However, the relative importance of each of these in the decision-making process varies for each organisation depending on its corporate aims, culture and procedures.

The NCRI Cancer Research Database includes expenditure on cancer research by NCRI partner organisations. This includes only direct spend on cancer research, or spend which directly supports cancer research. The proportion of cancer research funding directly supporting brain tumour research was 1.5% in 2014. This analysis includes fundamental research (28.8%) and funding relevant to all cancer sites (25.1%). If these elements are excluded, brain tumour research received 3.3% of site-specific cancer research funding. This is a greater proportion than for 40 of the 49 site-specific categories.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) welcomes funding applications for research into any aspect of human health, including brain tumours. These applications are subject to peer review and judged in open competition, with awards being made on the basis of the importance of the topic to patients and the NHS, value for money and scientific quality. NIHR funding is not ring-fenced for cancer research or for research on brain tumours or other types of cancer. In all disease areas, the amount of NIHR funding depends on the volume and quality of scientific activity.

The Government welcomes the commitment by Cancer Research UK to increase spend in research on brain tumours. This will drive further investment by the NIHR. This happens in two ways. Firstly, as scientific breakthroughs are translated into interventions benefitting patients through infrastructure for experimental medicine. Secondly, investment is driven as emerging interventions are investigated in studies and trials through the NIHR Clinical Research Network.

Department of Health

Petitions Committee hosts web forum on brain tumour research

The Petitions Committee has decided to conduct an inquiry into funding for brain tumour research.

As the first part of the inquiry, the Committee has decided to have a web forum online in which people can share their thoughts on the issue and share any personal experiences with the Committee. Responses will be moderated before being published and contributors may be invited to meet with the Committee in person. The deadline for comments is Friday 30 October 2015.

To contribute to the web thread and find out more information on the inquiry you can visit:

Petitions Committee report and debate on brain tumour research

You may know that the House of Commons Petitions Committee has been looking into funding for brain tumour research as a result of this petition. The Committee is now preparing its report. The report will present the evidence the Committee has heard and make conclusions and recommendations which the Government will respond to.

The Committee has agreed to schedule a debate on this petition after its report has been published.

We'll email you when the report is published. We'll also let you know when the debate has been scheduled.

You can read more about the Committee's inquiry into funding for brain tumour research here:

You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @hocpetitions

Petitions Committee publishes its report on funding for research into brain tumours

On Monday 14 March, the House of Commons Petitions Committee will publish its report on funding for research into brain tumours. The report will outline the Committee's findings and make recommendations to the Government.

It will be published on this website from 00.01am on 14 March:

To mark the occasion, the Committee is holding a launch event in the Houses of Parliament on the 14 March. The Committee together with the petition creators and campaigners will talk about the Committee’s findings and what will happen next.

The event will be broadcast live. You can watch the event from 3.30pm on Monday 14 March on this website:

The petition now has over 120,000 signatures and will be debated in Parliament. The date of the debate will be announced by the Committee shortly. 

You can find out more about the work of the Petitions Committee on its website here:

You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @hocpetitions
The hashtag for the launch event and report is #braintumourresearch

Parliament debates brain tumour research

On Monday 18 April, the House of Commons will debate this petition. The debate will begin in Westminster Hall at 4.30pm.

You may wish to contact your local MP to tell them why this debate is important to you and suggest any points you would like them to raise. You can find out who your local MPs is, and how to contact them, here:

You can watch the debate live on the 18 April at 4.30pm using this page:

You can find out more information about the debate on the Petitions Committee website:

Please note that there are only 25 - 30 seats in the public gallery and the public gallery is expected to be very busy for this debate. Seats will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Petitions Committee's report on funding for brain tumour research will be "tagged" to the debate (listed as relevant for MPs).

You can read the Committee's report on this page:

You can watch the funding brain tumour research report launch event again, where the Committee together with the petition creators and campaigners talked about the Committee’s findings and what will happen next, here:

There are other ways you can get involved in the work of the UK Parliament.

Find out how to contact your MP or a Lord, contribute to a Parliamentary Committee, and search for free Parliament events taking place in your local area here:

Find out how you can visit Parliament:

You can find out more about the work of the Petitions Committee on its website here:

You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @HoCpetitions
You can follow the House of Commons on Twitter: @HouseofCommons

E-petition forces Government rethink on brain tumour research funding

The Government has responded to our report on this petition. Our report called for decisive action to tackle the historic underfunding of brain tumour research.

The Government has said:

  • They agree that action is needed
  • They agree that current funding for brain tumour research is not enough
  • They have promised to create a group of experts (working group) to address the problem

You can read the Government's response on our website:

What happens now?

We (the Petitions Committee) will continue to update you on what is happening. Our Chair, Helen Jones MP has said:

"The Petitions Committee warmly welcomes this positive response from the Government. We hoped that our report, which includes many of the deeply moving stories we heard from members of the public, would give them a louder voice.  It seems that they have finally been heard.

The Committee will be keeping a close eye on the progress of the working group. The Government's commitment to take long-overdue action on brain tumour research funding, which has been neglected by successive Governments for decades, is of course very welcome. 

However, it seems that the Government has not yet accepted some of our important recommendations. The response often speaks about Government action on cancer in general, without recognising one of the central messages of our report: that the complexities of brain tumours mean that they do not always benefit from general cancer research.

There are also several areas where the Government seems to have ignored the expert evidence heard by the Committee. These include: the evidence we heard about the difference between NICE guidelines for GPs and the more detailed guidance offered by the HeadSmart campaign; the challenges faced by young research scientists who want to pursue a career in brain tumour research; and the importance of explicitly taking account of the number of life years lost to a disease when determining research priorities.

The Committee will now want to work with the Government to make sure that our detailed recommendations are put into practice. Brain tumour patients and their families will be expecting real action, not just warm words, to come out of this process.

I would like to pay tribute, on behalf of the Committee, to the Realf family. With the support of Brain Tumour Research, they have campaigned tirelessly to bring this issue to Parliament. They have already done a huge amount to raise awareness among MPs—as have the many other members of the public who took part in the Committee’s inquiry and encouraged their MPs to speak in the debate on the petition. It is now up to the Government to ensure that their efforts have not been in vain."

Maria Lester who started the petition said:

“I am pleased that the Government formally accepts that a greater level of brain tumour research is urgently needed. As the Petitions Committee's excellent report points out, brain tumour patients have been failed for decades, and I hope that this response is an important step towards positive change. I would like to personally thank the Committee and the charity Brain Tumour Research for helping to raise awareness of this issue on a national level.

Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and the under 40s, and it is vital that the Government takes into account the number of life years lost when prioritising research spend.

I look forward to seeing what the working group suggests - and I hope that the Government's encouraging words will translate into meaningful action.

It may be too late for my brother Stephen, but it is never too late to make a difference.”