The Wanted’s Tom Parker, 33, was given his terminal cancer diagnosis on his OWN due to Covid restrictions – and slammed NHS treatment options during 18-month battle with disease
- Father-of-two Tom Parker died of brain cancer at the the age of 33 yesterday
- He was told he had stage four glioblastoma in Norwich in September 2020
- Pop star slammed treatment options available on the NHS last October
The Wanted’s Tom Parker was given his terminal brain cancer diagnosis on his own because of Covid restrictions.
The pop star and father-of-two died at the the age of 33 yesterday after an 18-month battle with the disease.
He was told he had a stage four glioblastoma in September 2020, six weeks after he started suffering seizures.
Due to the pandemic rules in place at the time, his then-pregnant wife and daughter were not allowed to be with him when he was given the heartbreaking diagnosis at a hospital in Norwich.
Tom was on an NHS waiting list for an MRI scan since July after bouts of unexplained fits.
Charities today insisted there was nothing more the health service could have done because the standard of treatment would have remained the same even if Tom was diagnosed earlier.
Tom — who had private care on top of the chemotherapy and radiotherapy offered by the health service — slammed the options available on the NHS last year.
He said: ‘I don’t want to beat around the bush about the NHS. I think they have been great
‘But I think there’s a massive improvement needed in treatment for brain tumours.’
Glioblastoma has a notoriously poor prognosis, with patients usually only living for 12 to 18 months after a diagnosis. This is partly to do with the speed the cancer spreads but also due to a lack of treatments able to successfully combat it.
MPs today called on the Government to increase funding to improve treatment and diagnoses for brain cancers.
Wanted pop star Tom Parker and father-of-two was told he had stage four glioblastoma in September 2020, six weeks after he started suffering seizures
Tom — who had private care on top of the chemotherapy and radiotherapy offered by the health service — slammed the options available on the NHS last year
Tom said he hoped to help increase funding for treatment and research by speaking out about his own experience. Last October he performed with The Wanted for the first time in seven year at a star-studded charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall (pictured) in aid of brain cancer research
Glioblastoma is considered the most aggressive tumor that can form in the brain. Senator John McCain was diagnosed with one in July 2017.
Patients have a 10 percent chance of surviving five years after their diagnosis, according to figures. The average lifespan is between 14 and 16 months.
Three adults per every 100,000 will be struck down with a glioblastoma, says The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS).
It is most commonly found in men aged 50 to 60, and there is no link between developing glioblastoma and having a previous history with other cancers.
WHAT IS THE TUMOR MADE OF?
The tumor is made up of a mass of cells growing quickly in the brain, and in most cases patients have no family history of the disease.
It won’t spread to other organs, however, once it is diagnosed, it is nearly impossible to target, surgeons claim.
Unlike other types of brain cancer which are more specifically located, glioblastoma can occur in any part of the brain.
WHAT TREATMENT IS AVAILABLE?
Because the tumor likely already spread deep into the brain by the time it is diagnosed, the cancerous tissue is incredibly difficult to remove.
Surgeon will only ever remove the tumor, or part of the tumor, if it won’t do any damage to the surrounding brain tissue.
Dr Babcar Cisse, a neurosurgeon at the Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center, told Daily Mail Online in July 2017: ‘By the time a glioblastoma is diagnosed, microfibers can spread to the rest of the brain which an MRI would not spot.
‘So even if the main tumor is removed and the patient receives radiation and chemotherapy, it will come back.’
GRADING A GLIOBLASTOMA
Brain tumors are graded from between one to four, depending on how fast they grow and how aggressive they are.
Malignant tumors are either given a high-grade three or four, while benign ones are given a lower grade one or two.
Glioblastoma is often referred to as a grade four astrocytoma – another form of brain tumor, says the AANS.
Patients typically complain of symptoms such as confused vision, trouble with memory, dizziness and headaches.
The symptoms are somewhat nonspecific, and vary from person to person, and may not persist.
The disease is therefore impossible to diagnose based on symptoms alone.
Tom began suffering seizures in July 2020 and was put on a waiting list for an MRI scan on the NHS.
He had his most serious seizure during a family trip to Norwich six weeks later and was rushed to hospital.
Tom spent three days in hospital and was not allowed to have his wife Kelsey or young daughter Aurelia with him due to Covid measures in place at the time.
The boy band member was alone when he received the news that his brain tumour was inoperable and terminal.
Tom and his wife revealed his diagnosis to his fans on October 12, 2020, saying they were ‘absolutely devastated’ but vowing to ‘fight this all the way’.
By that time, he had already begun chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment to shrink the cancer and slow its spread.
GBM patients are given the chemotherapy drug temozolomide as standard care on the NHS. The treatment has not changed for almost 20 years.
Hugh Adams, spokesman for the charity Brain Tumour Research, told MailOnline the standard of treatment would have remained the same even if Mr Parker was diagnosed earlier.
He said: ‘It is impossible to predict what would have happened if Tom had been scanned earlier.
‘Even if he had been scanned and diagnosed earlier the standard of care treatment would have remained the same.
‘The sad fact is that treatment options for patients haven’t changed in decades and this is because of a lack of investment in funding for research.
‘Without proper investment we will continue to lose young people to this cruel disease.’
Speaking in October last year, Tom said he was shocked by the lack of investment in GMB treatment in the UK.
He said research was under-funded and a ‘massive improvement’ is needed in treatment for brain tumours.
Alongside radiotherapy and chemotherapy, patients are also sometimes given surgery to remove tumours or steroids and drugs to manage their symptoms.
But Mr Parker told the Chat2Amani podcast last October ‘there’s got to be a better answer out there than just that’.
Last month, it was claimed that Tom had spent a week in Spain receiving a ‘revolutionary’ treatment.
His treatment abroad supposedly included time in an oxygen machine, massages and a special diet.
Funding for brain cancer research in the UK increased from £4million in 2010 to £15million in 2020.
However, that only makes up 2 per cent of all the cancer research spending in the UK, according to the National Cancer Research Institute.
Tom said he hoped to help increase funding for treatment and research by speaking out about his own experience.
Last October he performed with The Wanted for the first time in seven year at a star-studded charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall in aid of brain cancer research.
Tom questioned how a vaccine was developed for Covid within a year but some chemotherapy drugs used for brain tumour patients hadn’t changed in 20 years.
In November 2021, the star revealed in an Instagram post that his brain tumour had been brought ‘under control’.
Although a scan revealed tumour was ‘stable’ and not progressions, it did not mean he was cancer-free.
Earlier this month, a photo shared by his bandmates showed the star in a wheelchair behind the scenes of the groups’ UK tour after becoming too weak to stand.
MPs today called on No10 to increase spending on the NHS to improve outcomes for patients.
Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Daisy Cooper, told MailOnline: ‘I was extremely sad to learn that Tom Parker had, sadly, passed away yesterday and my thoughts are with his family and loved ones.
‘I never met Tom, but was touched at how, in the face of his own diagnosis and treatment, he bravely used his platform to raise vital awareness of brain tumours.
‘It is clear that there is more that the Government can and must do and I urge them to act now — including by seriously tackling the NHS staffing crisis — so that fewer families have to experience the premature loss of their loved ones.’
Glioblastoma forms from cells called astrocytes that support nerve cells and has usually spread deep into the brain by the time it is diagnosed.
Like many brain tumours, scientists do not know what causes the cancer and in most cases patients have no family history of the disease.
In 2018, former Labour MP Tessa Jowell died after a battle with glioblastoma and former US Senator John McCain succumbed to the cancer in 2017.
It can kill by shutting down the brain entirely or pressing against the brainstem, which controls breathing and pulse.
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