Tara Morrison, MD and James R. Perry, MD, Crolla Family Brain Tumour Research Unit, Division of Neurology, Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre; University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.
Primary brain tumours are most commonly diagnosed in elderly individuals and the incidence of these uniformly fatal malignancies is on the rise. Recent studies have shown that the most common of these tumours, the glioblastoma multiforme, is genetically different in elderly compared to younger patients. Current research studies exploiting the genetic differences of these tumours as anti-cancer targets hold promise for the immediate future. At present the focus of brain tumour treatment is excellent supportive care. Radiation treatment and chemotherapy are being actively revisited to maximize quality of life. In addition, complications such as venous thromboembolism, seizures and therapy-induced adverse effects have received much attention and are reviewed in this article.
Key words: brain neoplasms, glioblastoma multiforme, palliative care, chemotherapy.