HC Deb 10 April 2002 vol 383 cc430-1W
Mr. Burns

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research is(a)underway and (b)planned to commence this year to develop new and more effective chemotherapy drugs for the treatment of serious brain cancers. [46751]

Yvette Cooper

A worldwide review of over 3,000 patients, conducted by the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) and published inThe Lanceton 23 March 2002 has found that chemotherapy in addition to surgery and radiotherapy may benefit adult patients with certain types of brain tumour.

Previously individual trials that assessed the efficacy of giving chemotherapy as well as surgery and radiotherapy to adults with high grade glioma, and spanned 30 years, did not include enough patients to give clear results. So leading researchers from around the world formed the Glioma Meta-analysis Trialists' Group and provided their original research from 12 trials to the CTU for re-analysis.

The MRC Clinical Trials Unit is currently conducting a Randomised trial of adjuvant PVC (procarbazine, lomustine, and vincristine) chemotherapy for anaplastic oligodendroglioma, which is looking at whether adjuvant chemotherapy following surgery and radiotherapy can provide longer and better survival than surgery and radiotherapy alone.

We made clear in the NHS Cancer Plan of September 2000 that by 2003 the Government would be investing an additional £20 million each year in the infrastructure for cancer research. Progress in establishing the National Translational Cancer Research Network (NTRAC) and the National Cancer Research Network (NCRN) has been rapid and substantial. NTRAC is focusing on speeding up the processes for getting scientific breakthroughs from the laboratory bench to the hospital bedside. NCRN is focusing on doubling the number of cancer patients in clinical trials, including trials of new chemotherapy drugs for brain cancer.

Mr. Burns

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the effectiveness of chemotherapy for patients suffering from brain tumours; and the impact of the treatment upon the life expectancy of brain tumour patients. [46747]

Yvette Cooper

First line treatment for brain tumours is usually surgery and/or radiotherapy. For a patient whose tumour recurs or progresses following surgery and radiotherapy, the chemotherapy treatment options are limited because the currently available agents have only a small chance of being effective.

As indicated in the NHS Cancer Plan, the Department of Health and the National Assembly of Wales are currently considering a proposal for referral to National Institute for Clinical Excellence of service guidance for tumours of the brain and central nervous system.

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