Canadian Brain Cancer Patients Treated Unequally: Brain Cancer Canada

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 new research by the charity Brain Cancer Canada.

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

For many types of brain cancer, the standard of chemotherapy care includes Temozolomide (TMZ), a drug taken by patients in oral form, at home.

But in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island, provincial health plans do not cover TMZ administered orally. That means that brain cancer patients can face enormous difficulties, and even financial ruin, in getting life-prolonging treatment.

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

"Patients fighting for their lives should get the support they need, and not be faced with enormous out-of-pocket costs for basic cancer treatment," said Angela Scalisi, Chair of Brain Cancer Canada. “Adding a high financial burden to the devastating diagnosis of brain cancer is beyond cruel.”

Even if patients have private insurance, the treatment may be only partially covered, and the approval process can be long, even though it’s essential to get drugs administered immediately.

Every year, around 3,000 Canadians are diagnosed with brain cancer. With glioblastoma, the most common type of adult brain cancer, patients have an average survival period after diagnosis of just 18 months. This outlook is the best-case scenario if they get the proper treatment: a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

Even if patients have private insurance, they may only be partially covered, and the approval process for medication can be long, when the urgency to get drugs administered immediately is high.

“It’s difficult to understand why treatment for brain cancer is not equitably available to everyone living in Canada," said Marc Peeters, Director of Partnerships and Stakeholders at Brain Cancer Canada. "We live in a dream where Canadian families everywhere don’t have to worry about the costs of health care. But it turns out that, with one of the worst medical diagnoses you can be faced with, that is manifestly not the case.”

Brain Cancer Canada invites governments to start a dialogue with patients, their families, caregivers and neurooncologists. We ask all provinces to provide full coverage for oral chemotherapy used to manage brain cancers. Patients, caregivers and survivors can share their experiences accessing treatment via

To learn more about Brain Cancer Canada, please visit


For inquiries, please contact: Marc Peeters, Director Partnerships and Stakeholders at Brain Cancer Canada,, 416 918 6678