Physicians may not always report brain cancer patients unfit to drive

June 4, 2012

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

No dye: Cancer patients' gray hair darkened on immune drugs

July 21, 2017
Cancer patients' gray hair unexpectedly turned youthfully dark while taking novel drugs, and it has doctors scratching their heads.

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

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.