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New hope for brain cancer patients


Posted on: 06/23/2005

New hope for brain cancer patients

18:00 AEST Thu Jun 23 2005
JCT A new anti-cancer drug, which has significantly increased the chances of survival for brain cancer patients, will be subsidised and put to front line use from today by the Federal Government.

Developed in the United States, Temodal works by preventing cancer cells from replicating themselves, and has shown remarkable success for the most common form of brain cancer, the highly malignant gliobastoma multiforme or GBM.

“This is welcome news for patients diagnosed with GBM, because in the past, chemotherapy given to newly diagnosed patients had no impact on containing this aggressive brain cancer,” says Dr Gail Ryan, from Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

“Doctors had only limited options to treat this brain cancer, predominantly relying on surgery and radiotherapy to shrink the tumour.

Clinton Beattie was 12-years-old when severe headaches started waking him during the night. At first, he put them down to migraine, but scans revealed brain cancer. After six years of chemotherapy, radiation and brain surgery, he was placed on the drug.

“I’d had about 14 operations to relieve pressure and try and eliminate the tumour,” he says, adding that the tumour eventually began to impact on his sight and balance.

But on Temodal, the tumour shrunk by 25 percent within three months.

“He'd failed all treatments so essentially we were looking for something that was going to be his last ditch stand,” says cancer specialist Dr Robert Smee, from Sydney’s Prince of Wales Private Hospital.

Canberra will now fully subsidise the $40,000 cost of Temodal, so it can be used, first up, in newly diagnosed aggressive brain cancer

And Clinton, now at university, is testimony to the drug's significant improvement to survival.

“When Temodal came along it was really important because it eliminated the tumour and gave me hope for future health.”

© National Nine News 2005

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