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Prince Edward Island

Canadian Brain Cancer Patients Treated Unequally: Brain Cancer Canada

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TORONTO, Oct. 26, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — For Canadians diagnosed with brain cancer, where they live determines how much access they have to treatment, according to a new study by charity Brain Cancer Canada.

A survey by the national organization shows that access to chemotherapy for malignant brain tumors is not universal across Canada.

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For many types of brain tumors, standard chemotherapy includes temozolomide (TMZ), a drug that patients take at home in oral form.

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But in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island, provincial health plans do not cover oral TMZ. This means that brain cancer patients can face tremendous difficulty, and even financial ruin, in obtaining life-prolonging treatment.

In provinces that choose not to have oral chemotherapy, patients must pay tens of thousands of dollars for chemotherapy unless they have full private insurance coverage.

“Patients struggling for their lives should be given the support they need and not be faced with the huge out-of-pocket costs of basic cancer care.” said Angela Scalisi, chair of Brain Cancer Canada. “Adding a heavy financial burden to the devastating diagnosis of brain cancer is beyond cruel.”

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Even when patients are privately insured, treatment can only be partially covered and the approval process can be lengthy, although it is important to get medications administered promptly.

Around 3,000 Canadians are diagnosed with brain cancer each year. With glioblastoma, the most common type of brain cancer in adults, patients have a median survival time after diagnosis of just 18 months. These prospects are the best case scenario when given the right treatment: a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Even when patients are privately insured, they may only be partially insured, and the drug approval process can be lengthy when the urgency of getting drugs administered promptly is high.

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“It is difficult to understand why treatment for brain cancer is not equally available to all residents of Canada,” said Marc Peeters, director of partnerships and advocacy at Brain Cancer Canada. “We live in a dream where Canadian families everywhere don’t have to worry about the cost of healthcare. But it turns out that with one of the worst medical diagnoses one can face, that is clearly not the case.”

Brain Cancer Canada invites governments to start a dialogue with patients, their families, caregivers and neuro-oncologists. We call on all provinces to provide full coverage of oral chemotherapy for the treatment of brain cancer. Patients, caregivers and survivors can share their experiences of accessing treatment via [email protected]

To learn more about Brain Cancer Canada, please visit www.braincancercanada.ca


For inquiries please contact: Marc Peeters, Director Partnerships and Stakeholders at Brain Cancer Canada, [email protected], 416.918.6678

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