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Researchers hail ‘staggering’ increase in low-grade glioma survival thanks to earlier surgery

Reported in The Times this morning, thousands have benefited over the last ten years due to surgical improvements.

Published in the journal Neuro-Oncology Practice, the study, led by teams from University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation and UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, found that five-year survival rates for low-grade glioma patients after surgery had increased from 82% in the decade top 2006 to 100% in the decade 2017.

The study went further finding that ten-year survival increased from 52% in the years to 2006 to 96% by 2017.

In addition, the study found that the proportion of patients who were seizure-free for a year or more after surgery, allowing them to drive a vehicle, nearly doubled, from 22% in the 2006 period to 42% in the 2017 period, quoted The Times.

Several key factors are behind this said Dr Jeremy Rees, a consultant neurologist at the trust, including three times as many patients being offered surgery, improved imaging techniques and the development of improved awake craniotomies that allow surgeons to monitor functions such as speech during the proceedure.

The research summarised:

  • 5 year survival rates increased from 81.8% in 2006 to 100% in 2017
  • 10 year survival increased from 51.7% in 2006 to 95.8% in 2017
  • Rates of intractable epilepsy – where treatment fails to control a patient’s epilepsy – fell from 57% to 32%
  • The proportion of patients who become seizure free increased from 22% to 42%

Dr Rees said: “The improvements we saw in survival and seizure control were staggering. It appears that this change in approach — to operate earlier — has led to a step change in how long patients can expect to live.

“Improvements in seizure control are vitally important for patients, due to the impacts that seizures have on quality of life and driving, in particular.

“It is highly likely that the improvements we saw are a result of a more proactive approach to surgery.”

These findings are hugely welcome in the drive to improve brain tumour survival and reduce the harm caused by the disease – our key goals.

The impact of low-grade brain tumours is too often underestimated: the reality is that the disease in all its forms devastates thousands of lives every year.

The next step is to ascertain whether this successful shift in practice at UCLH is being replicated across other neurosurgery units in the UK, so that everyone diagnosed with a brain tumour can be confident they have access to the best possible treatment and care regardless of where they live.

This research shows very clearly the power of data to bring about positive change for our community.

That’s why we’re committed to ensuring everyone diagnosed with a brain tumour can record and share their own experiences through our data-led resource, BRIAN, which will allow researchers access to an ever-increasing pool of information and accelerate progress towards a cure.

Read The Times article here. It is behind their paywall.

Read the research article from Neuro-Oncology Practice here.