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Benign brain tumours may cause greater stress

A new study has revealed that patients with benign brain tumours can experience greater distress than those with malignant tumours before radiation therapy.

Dr Maria Kangas, lead researcher, said that many people assume that a benign tumour would cause less distress in patients but these results show at early diagnosis this is the opposite.

“Participants with benign tumours showed substantially elevated distress relative to patients with a malignant tumour,” she said.

“Quite often people feel that having a benign tumour is not much of a problem but this isn’t the case. Both benign and malignant tumours can be life threatening and can cause brain function impairments as well as psychological problems.”

The research reveals there is a difference in stress levels between patients with tumours in the left hemisphere of the brain compared to those with right hemisphere brain tumours. Patients that had left hemisphere tumours were more inclined to experience elevated stress and mood disturbances.

The findings highlight the importance of screening patients with brain tumours undergoing treatment for psychological and cognitive disturbances.

“It’s crucial to identify patients who may be at risk of experiencing acute and more prolonged problems,” Kangas said.

A team of researchers at Macquarie University Cancer Institute have launched a new brain tumour clinic vital to improving treatment for patients with brain tumours.

“It’s vital to integrate psychological research into our programs and this is an important study,” said Dr Andrew Davidson, lead clinician for neuro-oncology at Macquarie University Cancer Institute.

“It’s really scary when someone develops a brain tumour. It’s not enough for a patient to have an operation; we need to look after them as a whole person and help them deal with the difficult issues they face both emotional and physical,” says Professor John Boyages, director of the Macquarie University Cancer Institute.

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