We know that this is a very difficult time for people with brain tumours as well as their families and carers.

Below is information which you may find helpful and should answer some of the questions you may have about your ongoing treatment.

Patients should contact their medical team for any specific questions about their tumour or treatment.

Please follow the Irish Government advice on self-isolating and social contact. The official advice can be found here: https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/

This advice applies to: 

  • all patients on active treatment (e.g. chemotherapy, radiotherapy)  
  • all patient being monitored with MRI 
  • all carers, relative and friends 

The most vulnerable patients with brain tumours are those who are on or have recently finished chemotherapy – full isolation at home is advised.

  • Patients should continue taking all their medication as prescribed by their treating doctors – this includes steroids (dexamethasone) and anti-epileptic drugs.
  • Patients should not stop their steroids abruptly or reduce them without medical guidance.
  • It is not known whether steroids increase the risk of getting Coronavirus or the severity of the infection but patients should continue on treatment as this will help neurological symptoms.
  • Medication can often be delivered directly to homes (contact your GP / pharmacy).
  • It is likely that surgery will be prioritised for patients with aggressive malignant tumours (e.g. glioblastoma) – all cases will be assessed on an individual risk-benefit analysis.
  • Surgery for patients with low grade glioma and meningioma is likely to be deferred until after the COVID outbreak – this should not adversely affect your overall treatment.
  • Patients with shunts are not at increased risk of COVID-19 infection.
  • There is no known increase in the risk of post-operative wound infections.
  • Patients currently having radiotherapy will continue to complete the course where possible.
  • For new patients, if radiotherapy is recommended you may receive a shorter course if the treating team feel this is in your best interest.
  • Patients on chemotherapy may have this stopped or changed to a less intensive regime because it suppresses the immune system – decisions will be made on a risk benefit analysis on a case-by-case basis.
  • For new patients’ chemotherapy may be deferred – decisions will be made on a risk benefit analysis on a case-by case basis.
  • Radiotherapy for patients with low grade glioma and meningioma is likely to be deferred until after the COVID outbreak – this should not adversely affect your overall treatment.
  • Patients should continue taking their anti-epileptic medication – these are not immunosuppressant drugs. 
  • COVID-19 affects the lungs and does not increase the risk of seizures.
  • Most hospitals have suspended ‘routine’ follow-up MRI scans, e.g. for meningioma and stable low-grade glioma patients who are not exhibiting symptoms.  
  • MRI scans for patients on treatment, e.g. for glioblastoma, are likely to continue, but in some centres, this has also stopped and imaging is only being done for symptomatic patients were there is a further treatment option.
  • Patients with malignant brain tumours should still be having follow up with the treating teams but this may be by, e-mail, telephone, or video (skype, zoom) instead – the majority of consultations will not be face-to-face in the coming weeks
  • Patients with non-malignant brain tumours (meningiomas and low-grade gliomas) are likely to have their appointments deferred at this time.

 

If people do become symptomatic from their brain tumour, then they can still contact their treating team, and a review (which may not be face-to-face as above) should still be possible.

Sources: Health Service Executive Ireland, British Neuro-Oncology Society. 

Check in with the latest public health advice

As the COVID-19 outbreak is a rapidly changing environment, we advise all patients to keep up to date with the Government’s advice and guidelines  at https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/

Information on disruptions to hospital services is updated here on a regular basis: https://www2.hse.ie/services/hospital-service-disruptions/hospital-service-disruptions-covid19.html

Ireland’s Roadmap to Reopening

We are now in Phase 3 of Ireland’s Roadmap to Reopening, which commenced on Monday 29th June 2020.

Details of the full Roadmap to Reopening can be found here.

Phase 4 is due to commence on Monday 20th July 2020.

Do you need information or support? Maybe even just a chat?

We are here.We know that this is a very challenging time for people living with brain tumours, particularly anyone receiving a new diagnosis. We want to continue to support you, your families and/or carers.

What is the most difficult aspect of COVID-19 for you at the moment? Is there any way that burden can be eased for you?

Contact us at info@braintumourireland.com or by calling 085 7219000. The phone is manned Monday – Thursday but if you do not get us immediately you can leave a message and we will get back to you.

Together we will get through this challenging time.

 Brain tumour support groups

Taking into account the public health advice to avoid gatherings, all face to face brain tumour support groups, including our own, and those of the Irish Brain Tumour Support Group, are postponed until further notice.

However we at Brain Tumour Ireland can make our Zoom account available to all brain tumour support groups so they can continue meeting in accordance with the physical distancing rules.

How can we provide the best end of life care for people during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Brain Tumour Palliative Care

Take a look at this series of short videos by our board member Bryan Nolan on the theme of “Caring for Carers”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHVkOXHgzBk

We thank all of the front line staff providing such considerate and compassionate end of life care for people at what is a very difficult time.

We also support the Irish Hospice Foundation‘s Think Ahead campaign. You can read lots of useful information about important conversations and planning here: https://hospicefoundation.ie/…/public-awareness/think-ahead/