Brain Cancer - Medical Malpractice Lawyers
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Thousands of Canadian citizens are diagnosed with brain cancer every year however only a minority are diagnosed early enough to affect a cure. The key to survival is early diagnosis and treatment which is often delayed due to misdiagnosis or misinterpreted test results. Brain cancer misdiagnosis is extremely common and failure by a healthcare practitioner that amounts to negligence is a matter of medical malpractice and entitles the victim to claim financial recompense for pain and suffering or the loss of opportunity for a cure. Our specialist medical malpractice lawyers deal with brain cancer clinical negligence cases against doctors, nurses, technicians and other healthcare providers working in medical practices, clinics, hospitals and all other places where health care is dispensed. If you would like advice about brain cancer misdiagnosis just contact our offices and a specialist medical malpractice lawyer with call to discuss your potential compensation claim without charge and without further obligation. Our brain cancer medical malpractice lawyers will give you their opinion on the liability of the negligent healthcare provider and will estimate the amount of the likely award of damages there and then.
Brain cancer affects about 2,000 individuals per year in Canada and over 1,000 of those people will die from the disease. Brain cancer can affect a person at almost any age with a mean diagnosis of 55 years. The mean age at death from brain cancer is about 64 years of age. The survival rate is much better at ages 20 and less and is higher at between 65 and 74. This translates to about 4.5 individuals per 100,000 people dying of brain cancer each year. The highest rate of death is in men, who die at a rate that is double that of women. The lifetime risk of getting brain cancer is about 1 in 174 men and women. Men, as mentioned, have a higher rate than women, although the reason why is unclear.
Brain cancer occurs when a cell in the brain develops a genetic mutation that doesn’t allow the brain cell to stop growing. There are many types of brain cancer, with the most common type of primary brain cancer being a glioblastoma. Brain cancers can be primary or secondary. Primary cancers occur when cells in the brain itself become cancerous. Secondary brain cancers are actually metastatic cancers that travel to the brain. Brain cancers can be called “brain tumours” but not all brain tumors are cancerous.
The brain cancer cells grow aggressively, crowding out the healthy cells of the brain. This can increase the intracranial pressure in the brain and distort the vital structures which surround the tumor. These parts of the brain don’t work very well and stroke-like symptoms can occur.
Usually, a benign brain tumor is less serious than a malignant one. Even so, benign brain tumors can press on surrounding brain cells, resulting in serious symptoms and increased intracranial pressure.
In primary brain cancer, the cancer is named after the cell that the cancer originated from. Some brain cancers include glioblastoma from glial cells, an astrocytoma, an acoustic neuroma, a chordoma, a craniopharyngioma, a medulloblastoma, a meningioma, and a Schwannoma. There are many secondary types of brain cancer, including cancer coming from the skin (melanoma), breast and lungs.
Brain tumors vary in the rate of growth and the ability to cause symptoms in the person with the tumor. Fast growing cells are high grade tumors. In brain tumors, it is the grade of tumor that is more important than the stage of tumor. Tumor grades in brain cancer include Grade I tumor, in which the tissue is completely benign and the cell growth is slow. Grade II tumors include cancerous tissues that look slightly less normal under the microscope. In Grade III tumors, the cells look much different under the microscope and the cells grow actively. The cells are considered “anaplastic”. In grade IV brain cancer, the cells look the most abnormal and grow extremely fast.
The symptoms of brain cancer include severe headache, visual changes, changes in hearing, numbness and tingling of the extremities or paralysis of the extremities. Speech can also be affected.
Doctors diagnose brain cancer using several techniques. A CT scan or MRI scan of the brain can highlight brain cancers quite easily. An ultrasound can be used to detect brain cancers in young children. Scanning tests are followed by biopsies. A biopsy of the brain can be guided by CT scan or an open biopsy can be done. The cells are looked at under the microscope so that grading and the planning of the treatment can begin. The grade of the cancer determines the treatment strategy.
Primary brain cancers are usually highly sensitive to radiation. Sometimes radiation is done alone or prior to surgery in order to shrink the tumor before the tumor is removed. Chemotherapy can be used but it is not as successful as surgery and radiation in most cases.
Most brain tumors are actually brain cancer although they are referred to as "tumours" as though they are benign. If the tumor is not cancerous, the patient tends to do better. All types of brain cells and brain tissue can form a brain cancer. You can also commonly get metastatic cancer from cancer that started in another body area. Brain cancer, whether metastatic or not, is a serious disease from which few people recover.
Brain cancers that are primary can be made from different brain cell types. The growth of these cells tends to be very aggressive and grow rapidly. They take up the nutrients and resources needed by normal brain cells and they begin to take up space, causing pressure to build up within the skull.
Common brain cancers (primary) include meningiomas, gliomas, astrocytomas, CNS lymphomas and medulloblastomas. These are named after the type of brain cell from which the tumor originates. Brain cancers are graded according to the aggressiveness of the tumor. For example:
- Grade I cancer is a benign brain tumor with slow growth and cells that appear normal under the microscope
- Grade II cancer is a malignancy that has cells that look somewhat differently from regular brain cells
- Grade III brain cancer looks markedly different from normal brain cells and are "anaplastic" under the microscope
- Grade IV brain cells are the most abnormal looking and grow extremely fast
Metastatic brain cancer doesn't look like brain cancer at all under the microscope and look like the cancer from which the tumour originated.
About 2,000 individuals get brain cancer every year. There are several probable causes of brain cancer which includes genetics, having an HIV infection, having prior radiation to the brain, cigarette smoking and possible environmental causes, including exposure to rubber chemicals, embalming fluids, and cell phones, although that has been disputed in several different studies.
Symptoms of brain cancer differ depending on the location of the tumor and how big it is. Some tumors are not big at all and are not very dangerous. Some tumors, even small ones, push on vital nerves and can affect vision, hearing or other bodily functions. Seizures are common results of brain cancers and individuals can have difficulty with speech, ambulation, upper extremity or lower extremity function and sensory problems. Brain swelling can cause headaches and difficulty in mentation.
If you have brain cancer, headache is the first symptoms you tend to get. Clumsiness of the arms or legs is common and weakness in the extremities as if you are having a stroke can be symptoms of an early or mid-sized brain cancer. Your personality can change and you can have problems walking. Memory, attention and alertness can be affected by having a brain cancer. Nausea and vomiting are also common and your intellectual capacity can suffer greatly.
Testing for cancer of the brain involves a CT scan or MRI scan of the skull which can easily define the one or more tumors found in the brain. Some brain tumors show abnormal lab tests that can be tested for. A biopsy of the tumor is then done using an open biopsy or a biopsy using a stereotactic needle biopsy. Small samplings of brain tissue are all that are needed to get a decent diagnosis.
The treatment of brain cancer is removing as much of the tumor as possible, either after or before chemotherapy or radiation. Radiation therapy is often done before and after brain cancer surgery in order to get all of the tumor removed. The prognosis depends on the location, size and grade of the tumor.
Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Our medical malpractice lawyers deal with Brain Cancer negligence cases. If you would like legal advice at no cost and with no further obligation just call the helpline or complete the contact form or email our lawyers offices. Our Brain Cancer lawyers usually deal with personal injury compensation cases on a contingency basis which means that you only pay legal fees if the case is won.
LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here