Physicians may not always report brain cancer patients unfit to drive

June 4, 2012, Lawson Health Research Institute

Ontario doctors are legally required to report patients they consider medically unfit to drive to the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) – yet they may not be doing it. A new study from Lawson Health Research Institute shows doctors treating patients with brain cancer are unclear about how and when to assess and report a patient's ability to drive.

Brain tumours can compromise a patient's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. The Canadian Medical Association has drafted guidelines to help physicians assess these risks. But according to Dr. Alex Louie, a Scientist at Lawson, 76% of Southwestern Ontario physicians caring for patients with feel reporting guidelines are unclear.

In a recent survey led by Dr. Louie, only three quarters of doctors in this group said they consider reporting brain tumour patients at all. When they do consider reporting, it is usually motivated by legal obligations – even though almost a quarter of the respondents could not clearly define these laws and how they are impacted by them.

In a review of actual clinical practice, Dr. Louie's group looked at the driving assessments for patients receiving brain radiotherapy at London Health Sciences Centre's (LHSC) London Regional Cancer Program (LRCP) between January and June 2009. Results show only 41% of patients were advised not to drive, and only 30% were reported to MTO. Of the patients who experienced seizures – automatic grounds for revoking a license – only 68% discussed driving with their doctor, and only 56% were reported to the licensing authority.

Research from other countries, and in other medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes, suggests inconsistent assessment and reporting are widespread concerns. Further research is required to determine the extent of the issue and to provide an appropriate solution.

"Our overarching goal is to make Canadians aware that this is an issue," Dr. Louie says. "We need more clear and precise guidelines, and more education of physicians, to protect both the safety of our and our society."

Dr. Louie presented the results of this study last night at the Novartis Oncology Young Canadian Investigator Awards (NOYCIA) Dinner in Chicago, where he was honored for the second year in a row.

Explore further: Kellogg researcher helping eye care providers better assess driving in older adults

Related Stories

Kellogg researcher helping eye care providers better assess driving in older adults

August 22, 2011
Drivers over age 65 are the fastest-growing segment of the driving population, and their eye care providers—ophthalmologists and optometrists—are playing an increasingly important role in assessing their ability ...

Recommended for you

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.