We know relatively little about brain tumours, despite their significant effect on the population through long-term disability and years of lives lost.
This is for several reasons.
- They are relatively rare
- They encompass a very large number of different types; the WHO’s latest histological classification of brain tumours  identifies more than 130 different varieties
- It’s hard to access brain tumours and this makes tissue biopsy and surgery difficult
So this latest report published by Public Health England and Cancer 52 throws up some interesting figures which got us thinking. We already know that malignant brain and CNS tumours is one of the less common and rarer cancer sites that has the highest incidence and highest mortality. What we didn’t know is that malignant brain and CNS tumours is now considered to be a less common cancer, rather than a rarer cancer. Rarer cancers are when the incidence is less than 6 per 100,000 of population; less common when the incidence is greater than 6 per 100,000 of population. Malignant brain accounts for 9.03.
If there is an upside to this report then it is that data completeness and the quality of data has improved for brain and CNS tumours. But the focus is still very much on incidence and morbidity. We need to see much more focus on the impact a brain tumour has and changes in prevalence, areas where we can and will make a difference.
 WHO classification of Tumours of the Central Nervous System. Eds Louis, D.N 4th Edition IARC Lyon