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Brain Tumours: Rise in Glioblastoma Multiforme Incidence in England 1995-2015 Suggests an Adverse Environmental or Lifestyle Factor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Alasdair Philips
  • Denis L Henshaw
  • Graham Lamburn
  • Michael J O'Carroll
Original languageEnglish
Article number7910754
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Environmental and Public Health
DateAccepted/In press - 21 Mar 2018
DatePublished (current) - 24 Jun 2018


Objective: To investigate detailed trends in malignant brain tumour incidence over a recent time period.

Methods: UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) data covering 81,135 ICD10 C71 brain tumours diagnosed in England (1995-2015) were used to calculate incidence rates (ASR) per 100k person-years, age-standardised to the European Standard Population (ESP-2013).

Results: We report a sustained and highly statistically significant ASR rise in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) across all ages. The ASR for GBM more than doubled from 2.4 to 5.0, with annual case numbers rising from 983 to 2531. Overall, this rise is mostly hidden in the overall data by a reduced incidence of lower-grade tumours.

Conclusions: The rise is of importance for clinical resources and brain tumour aetiology. The rise cannot be fully accounted for by promotion of lower-grade tumours, random chance or improvement in diagnostic techniques as it affects specific areas of the brain and only one type of brain tumour. Despite the large variation in case numbers by age, the percentage rise is similar across the age groups, which suggests widespread environmental or lifestyle factors may be responsible. This article reports incidence data trends and does not provide additional evidence for the role of any particular risk factor.

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