How Is Brain Tumour Awareness Month Being Marked In The UK?

gamma knife surgery - doctor patient conversation

March is Brain Tumour Awareness Month, and 2024 is the 15th anniversary of this annual event. The charity Brain Tumour Research (BTR) is running a programme of activities that are designed to raise awareness and funding for this devastating health condition. Here’s a roundup of events and how you can get involved. 

Wear a Hat Day, 28 March 2024

Thursday 28 March is the official Wear a Hat Day, although you can take part in the event at any time in March. The idea is to bring together friends, family and colleagues for a fundraising event with a hat theme, or to take part in a hattastic challenge, such as running a 5k or even a marathon while wearing your favourite hat. 

However, there is no need to complete a gruelling athletic feat to take part in Wear a Hat Day. You can simply put on your favourite headgear and make a donation to a brain tumour research centre. 

Since the idea was introduced back in 2010 by BTR, Wear a Hat Day events have raised over £2 million. This has been used to fund vital research into brain tumours, which kill more people under 40 than any other cancer. Despite this, just over one per cent of the national cancer research funding is currently spent on brain cancer.

Fundraising events around the UK

If you are interested in running to raise money for brain tumour research, there are dozens of opportunities to take part in marathons, half marathons, 10ks, 5ks, tough mudders, triathlons, and much more, with full listings available on the BTR website. 

There’s even a chance to take part in the 37th annual World Bog Snorkelling Championships! If you think you have what it takes to suit up in a mask and pair of flippers and swim the Waen Rhydd peatbog in Llanwrtyd Wells in Powys, mid Wales, then why not give it a go. 

If you are of a less adventurous disposition, there’s still plenty of ways you can get involved, by simply making a donation or a regular gift, or even leaving a legacy to the cause. You can also get involved with BTR’s campaign to raise the profile of brain tumours and influence the government to invest more in research. 

According to BTR, The prevalence of diagnoses and deaths from brain tumours continues to rise, and just 12 per cent of brain tumour patients survive beyond five years of diagnosis. Around 16,000 people are diagnosed with a brain tumour each year in the UK.

Brain tumour patients face considerable disruption to their daily lives, and for many it means giving up careers, hobbies, and surrendering their driving licence. The treatment and follow-up monitoring will usually require multiple lengthy hospital visits, often to specialist centres that are some distance from the patient’s home.

This can have a huge emotional and financial impact on patients, who are estimated to lose income worth £11,000 per year, and incur additional costs of almost £4,000. This is compared to an average of £6,840 per year for other cancer patients. 

What are the symptoms of brain tumours?

The symptoms of brain tumours vary depending on the size, type, and location of the tumour. Some of the most common symptoms include frequent or severe headaches that may be worse first thing in the morning; nausea or vomiting; new onset seizures; weakness or numbness; confusion; memory loss and speech difficulties. 

How are brain tumours treated?

The treatment of a brain tumour will depend on the type, whether it is high-grade (cancerous) or low-grade (non-cancerous). It may also depend on the location of the tumour in the brain, and the age and general health of the patient. 

The most common treatments include surgery, radiosurgery, and chemotherapy. There is a more specialised type of radiosurgery that is known as stereotactic radiotherapy, or sometimes also Gamma Knife Surgery. 

It is not surgery in the traditional sense, but involves delivering highly focused and concentrated gamma rays to the tumour from an external machine. This type of treatment usually requires fewer sessions, and the precise targeting helps the surrounding healthy tissue to remain intact. 

For more information about brain tumour treatment, please contact Mr Andrew McAvoy of Amethyst Radiotherapy.