Plaudits for Derek from Health Secretary in announcing new brain cancer treatment

The Health and Social Care Secretary has paid tribute to West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas in his role as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours in announcing a new ‘pink drink’ treatment aid which will help up to 2,000 patients a year.

The cancer treatment aid 5-ALA is now available across the country and will transform treatment for patients by accurately identifying areas of the brain affected by cancer.

Known as ‘the pink drink’, 5-ALA uses fluorescent dye and ultraviolet light to make cancerous cells glow under UV light and will help to tackle some of the hardest to treat cases and make sure healthy cells are left untouched. 

The treatment aid has been rolled out in every neurological centre in England as part of the NHS’s contribution to the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission, established by the government after her death.

Mr Hancock said that the Government was working to improve brain tumour outcomes, taking them out of the “too difficult box” – it had made £40 million available to fund cutting-edge research of new treatments and drugs through the National Institute for Health Research, it had provided an additional £8.6 million for the cancer workforce with the aim of having 300 more radiographers start training by 2021 and, through co-operation with the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission, it was working to ensure that data is shared properly so that more patients can benefit from new learning and techniques.

Welcoming the 5-ALA announcement, Mr Thomas said: “Brain tumours are the number one killer of children and adults under the age of 40 and only 14 per cent of those with the disease currently survive for 10 or more years.

“I am glad to say that the Government and NHS England are becoming increasingly aware of the need to redouble our efforts to fight this terrible cancer and so it is excellent news that the ‘pink drink’ is now widely available for patients.”