Brain cancer the leading cause of cancer death for under-39s

JORDAN Carroll faces a lifetime of medication, serious side effects, and the certain knowledge that he will eventually be blind - and he's still only 16 years old.

The Brisbane teenager has been battling a brain tumour since he was 11 - cheating death on more than one occasion.

The tumour has taken his eyesight, his memory and his childhood. And there's very little doctors can do for him.

Jordan's mum, Marie, has watched him endure a long and painful process of trial and error as his doctors tried chemotherapy, brain surgery, and even a trial drug in a bid to shrink his tumour.

There are few effective treatments for brain tumours like Jordan's, which is why Marie is calling on Queenslanders to donate to Cancer Council Queensland's Tax Appeal - and give research into brain tumours a substantial boost.

Marie said the nightmare began when Jordan complained of a terrible headache one night.

"Within minutes, he was yelling with pain and had started to throw up, so we decided to take him to hospital," she said.

"On the way, he stopped and was very quiet - we were close to going home so he could sleep it off - but we kept going to make sure he was okay.

"If we had driven home, Jordan would have been dead in the morning."

At hospital, Jordan was placed on life support and diagnosed with a massive bleed in his brain. Emergency surgery was the only way to save his life.

His brain injury was so severe he was only given a three per cent chance of survival.

When he defied his grim prognosis and emerged from his coma, Marie and her family were devastated to discover how badly Jordan's ordeal had affected him.

"He had to learn to walk again, and he didn't talk for about a month," she said.

When Jordan was released from hospital four months later, more heartache was to come - he was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour which was pressing on his optic nerve and causing his sight to deteriorate.

Even after everything Jordan has been through, his tumour is still growing and there is very little left for his doctors to try.

With funding from Cancer Council Queensland, Associate Professor Stephen Rose and his team at CSIRO are looking to revolutionise the prospects for recovery and survival of patients with brain tumours.

"I'm very interested in developing an imaging technology called positron emission tomography or PET, and seeing how we can use that to improve the diagnosis of brain tumours and optimize the treatment for patients," Prof Rose said.

"Better diagnosis will ultimately improve treatments. It will lead to better quality of life with fewer side effects for patients during treatment, and a greater chance of survival in the long run."

With the help of all Queenslanders this May, Cancer Council Queensland will continue funding lifesaving work such as Prof Rose's.

Be part of this and other important breakthroughs by making a donation this month.

Donate to Cancer Council Queensland's Tax appeal at or call 1300 663 936.

For cancer information and support, call the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.

Cancer Council Queensland is an independent, community-based charity. The achievements of Cancer Council Queensland are made possible by the generosity of Queenslanders.


Brain Cancer statistics:

  • In 2009, 344 Queenslanders were diagnosed with brain cancer. Around 247 people died from the disease in the same year. 
  • Brain cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for Australians under the age of 39
  • Brain cancer carries the highest financial burden of all cancers.
  • One person is diagnosed with brain cancer every 6 hours in Australia, every 8 hours one person passes away from brain cancer.