Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Survivor bids to raise awareness of brain tumour symptoms

CANCER survivor Mike Bellis is backing a campaign to raise awareness of brain tumours.
March has been designated as Brain Tumour Awareness Month by the UK charity Brain Tumour UK and other health charities.

Brain Tumour UK says that 40,000 people affected by brain tumours are missing from the UK's official statistics each year.

And the charity forecasts that the brain will become the primary battleground against cancer in the future as the treatment of other cancers advances.

Mr Bellis spoke in support of the campaign and said that his own story indicated that early diagnosis and treatment would have changed his life.

'With my tumour, doctors think I have had it all my life,' he said.
'If it had been diagnosed when I was younger it probably would have changed my life.'

Mr Bellis's tumour wasn't diagnosed until after he had seizures but he says that there were patterns of behaviour earlier in his life which may have been caused by the cancer and which could have been an indicator of a problem.

He was diagnosed in August 2007 with a slow-growing brain tumour known as astrocytoma, which is inoperable in the Isle of Man and the UK.

He was advised to wait until the disease became aggressive before exposing it to severe doses of radiation, but defied doctors by researching other options with the help of UK charity Brainstrust.

He underwent pioneering surgery in November by a world-leading neurosurgeon at the Hospitalier Universitaire Montpellier in France, who successfully removed 90 per cent of the tumour.

He is supporting the awareness month, which aims to make sure that government and health services across the UK record all brain tumours in the official statistics by the end of 2009, so that effective care can be planned and delivered.

'Brain tumours, by virtue of their dangerous location, can impact on every characteristic that defines us as human beings,' says the charity's chief executive Jenny Baker.

'It is scandalous that thousands of people, many of them suffering very substantial cognitive and physical impairments as a result of their tumour, are largely overlooked because health services have not recognised their existence and complex needs.'

Brain Tumour UK's report a�� 'Register my tumour, recognise me' a�� estimates that 48,000 people develop a primary or secondary brain tumour in the UK every year.

The report is supported by experts from around the UK.

Although 8,000 primary brain tumour cases are recorded in the official Cancer Registry, studies have shown that half of all primary brain tumours are missing from the registry.

Consequently, another 8,000 tumours are not recorded.

Some are malignant while others that are low grade or benign can nevertheless be as deadly as cancer.

The charity says that the most surprising finding of all is that secondary brain cancer is not recorded, even though for many cancer pati

Brain Tumour UK's review of post-mortem examination studies leads it to conclude that about 32,000 people affected by secondary brain tumours are not properly recorded in the official statistics each year.

Secondary cancer in the brain is becoming increasingly common as advances are made in treating other primary cancers.

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