A leading brain surgeon today said a planned new microscope at his hospital will help him better treat the type of aggressive brain tumour affecting Labour peer Tessa Jowell.
There has not been a breakthrough in life expectancy for those suffering from high-grade tumours known as glioblastomas in around 30 years.
Baroness Jowell, 70, who stood down as an MP in 2015, has sought alternative treatment abroad because of a lack of further cancer treatments on the NHS.
Mr Tim Jones, 39, neuro-oncology lead surgeon at St George’s Hospital, Tooting, said the state-of-the-art Zeiss Opmi Pentero microscope would allow “more precise” surgical treatment.
The £120,000 machine is not available through the NHS, so the John King Brain Tumour Foundation is raising the money and has obtained £75,000 so far.
He said: “We have one of the busiest brain cancer surgery treatment services in London. Glioblastoma is the commonest malignant brain tumour we treat. It is one of the rare tumours which has not experienced a dramatic improvement in life expectancy over the last 20 to 30 years. That is in comparison to other tumours like breast cancer and lung cancer now which have fantastic prognoses compared to what they were even five years ago.
“This special microscope has a long life and can be used for many neurosurgical conditions including glioblastoma. It has a potential working life of 20 years, it is going to have the potential to help thousands and thousands of patients.
” He said it can help by allowing for more precise, finer surgery and can help surgeons visualise brain tumours more clearly.
“If we can improve operations by getting more tumour out and minimise the risk to the eloquent parts of the brain which are still functioning, then we can give people a better quality of life after surgery and also potentially a longer life as well,” he said.
The John King Brain Tumour Foundation plans to find the remaining funds to buy the scope through a sponsored trek on the Great Wall of China, a ball at Claridge’s and a golf day at Burr Hill in Surrey.
The foundation was set up by entrepreneur Laura King, 58, after her husband John – who was a chef at The Connaught, The Mandarin in Manila and lectured at Westminster College in catering – died in November 2016 aged 65 after being diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma. He was treated at St George’s.
Ms King said: “Our first project is trying to buy this microscope. I wanted to do something that makes a difference, because it is so traumatic when you find out someone has 15 months to live… What we are doing is tiny, but you have got to start somewhere, and Tim [Jones] the consultant is just inspirational.” To find out more and donate visit