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The distinction between non-malignant and malignant brain tumours can be challenging. Some non-malignant tumours can be as serious as those classified as malignant if they are in an inaccessible location, such as the brain stem. Any brain tumour is life-changing regardless of grade or stage.
Every person diagnosed with a brain tumour will have different symptoms and their own journey to a diagnosis. While some people do not develop symptoms that would indicate a tumour, others may have symptoms that worsen over time eventually leading to a diagnosis. Other still may feel perfectly fine but experience a sudden onset of symptoms, such as a seizure which leads to a quick and unexpected tumour diagnosis.
Although it is seldom required, someone with a non-malignant brain tumour may require chemotherapy. Treatment protocols are based on the person’s age and overall condition, and the location and size of the tumour.
For some patients, there comes a day when active treatment ends. That day can bring with it numerous mixed feelings, relief, happiness, anxiety but also uncertainty. The end of treatment does not mean the end of the experience of having a brain tumour and the person may need to adapt to a “new normal” depending on long-term effects the person may have from treatment.
Currently, the Canadian medical system does not track statistics on primary brain tumours. Complete and accurate data is needed to facilitate the research that will lead to a better understanding of this disease and improved diagnosis and treatment.
Brain tumours are the leading cause of solid cancer death in children under the age of 20, now surpassing acute lymphoblastic leukemia. They are the third leading cause of solid cancer death in young adults ages 20-39.
The treatment of a brain tumour can vary widely depending on the type (there are 120 different ones) and location of a brain tumour, the age of a patient and many other individual elements. While treatment should be defined by an individual's medical needs, it should never be determined by cost or geographic location. Equal access to treatments and drugs and the associated financial burden is an important issue for brain tumour patients and their families in Canada. Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada is active on this complex issue in a number of ways.
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