Brain Tumour Research attends the Scottish Cancer Conference

3 min read

Brain Tumour Research was pleased to attend this year’s Scottish Cancer Conference alongside our new Patron, Theo Burrell. The theme of the conference was the new Scottish Cancer Strategy – Ten years in the future, what does success look like?

Professor Michael Borre, from the Department of Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University, gave the keynote speech. In 1999, Denmark had the highest cancer mortality rates in Europe – now, in 2023, it is Europe’s best performer. This was achieved through various measures, such as early detection programmes, advancements in treatments and comprehensive healthcare initiation. This was realised by building a cross-party consensus on the policies and level of investment required. Professor Borre said that there was a “paradigm shift” 15 years ago, and that the cancer community got political buy-in, “ensuring that politicians treated cancer as an acute disease”.

Prof Borre presenting

Brain Tumour Research is proud to support the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce, which also presented at the conference. The taskforce aims to increase the survivability of less survivable cancers to 28% by 2029. According to the Concord-3 cancer survival study, Scotland currently ranks 24 out of 33 for brain cancer. Lorraine Dallas, Chair of the Scottish Group, commented that to improve this, there must be a specific focus on less survivable cancers. She said: “We need to improve outcomes and survival with earlier diagnosis, faster diagnosis, optimal pathways, better supportive care and by boosting investment in research.”

Theo Burrell gave a patient’s view, speaking about her own treatment and brain cancer journey. She said: “Having someone talk to you in a human way is so important. My oncologist was so straight to the point that we actually fell out in the first meeting. For me it’s so much about people being kind, understanding and listening to you.”

Attendees listen to Theo’s story

Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care, Michael Matheson, was also in conversation with Michelle Mitchell OBE, CEO of Cancer Research UK. Mr Matheson said that Scottish Cancer Strategy was trying to take a whole system approach to cancer, by focusing on prevention, earlier diagnosis, treatment and post-treatment. A key element will be a review process, which he hoped would bring “greater consistency across the country”. He added that continued investment in research was essential and that he was “working closely with the Chief Scientist Officer to ensure that Scotland is an attractive location for clinical research”.

Michelle Mitchell OBE and Michael Matheson

Our Policy and Public Affairs Manager Thomas Brayford said: “The key take-away from this year's conference is that we need longer-term thinking to address poor outcomes for brain tumours, and for cancer more widely. For this to happen, politicians of all stripes need to work together with the patient voice being central to any decision-making.”

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