Sampling brain tumours for personalised treatment

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Published: 17 Feb 2017
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Brain Tumour Bank South West (BRASH)

ecancer visits the Brain Tumour Bank at Southmead Hospital, Bristol, a joint initiative between the NHS and Bristol University.

Approximately 7,000 patients in the UK develop primary brain cancer, but there are many more who develop secondary cancer within the brain from different primary sites around the body (such as breast and lung).

The brain tumour unit at North Bristol Trust treated over 400 cases of primary brain and spinal cord tumours in 2010. Brain cancer affects both adults and children, and in children it is the second highest cause of death after accidents. One of the major problems with primary brain cancer is that it invades the brain widely as single cells and therefore can be difficult to completely remove by surgery. It also can develop resistance to traditional chemotherapy and therefore tumour relapse is common.

Future developments of brain cancer will involve fully understanding each individual’s tumour according to what is driving the abnormal growth of that specific tumour. Then surgery and a range of therapies can be tailored to the individual, providing a personalised medicine approach.

Dr Kathreena Kurian, Honorary Consultant Neuropathologist/ University of Bristol Reader in Brain Tumour Research, gives us a background to the tumour bank and Hannah Williams talks us through her PhD research in to a blood test for brain cancer.