Lead Researchers: Paul Higgs, Henry Llewellyn
University College London
Primary brain tumours are rare, but life-threatening. Most are cancerous, and, of these, most are glioblastoma – an aggressive tumour with an extremely poor prognosis. Very few treatments are available.
New medical technologies might offer a new hope. Cancer doctors are now using ‘molecular biomarkers’ to distinguish between types of tumours. A biomarker, or ‘biological marker’, is an indicator of a disease process which can be measured. It might be changes in a gene, or a molecule produced by the tumour.
Doctors are now using biomarkers to predict which patients will respond to certain treatments. This is called ‘personalised medicine’ and is described as a move beyond a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.
Although extremely promising, these approaches also seriously challenge routine care and provoke major dilemmas around individual and population-wide treatment decisions, equity of access and the social arrangements of care. We must urgently understand this new moment in cancer care.
Our multi-sited ethnographic research project will provide unique knowledge on the social, ethical and political consequences of major new innovations in brain cancer – especially molecular and personalised medicine.
The project will produce a wealth of empirical findings, theoretical insights and applications to support cancer communities anticipate and navigate the many challenges that are ahead.Close