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



Research article by Alasdair Philips, Denis L. Henshaw, Graham Lamburn, Michael J. O’Carroll


Correspondence should be addressed to Alasdair Philips; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Received 19 December 2017; Revised 14 March 2018; Accepted 21 March 2018; Published 24 June 2018

Academic Editor: Evelyn O. Talbott

Copyright © 2018 Alasdair Philips et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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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