Brain Tumours - What are the Symptoms?

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Did you know that 12,000 people are diagnosed with a brain tumour each year?

As March is Brain Tumour Awareness Month, we are spreading awareness about what a brain tumour is, and the common signs and symptoms to look out for.


What is a brain tumour?

A brain tumour is an abnormal growth caused when changes occur to the cells in your brain. These changes can happen in the brain or within the supporting tissues, impacting regular brain function. What are the different types of brain tumours?

According to Cancer Research UK, there are over 130 different types of brain tumours. Brain tumours are referred to as either primary or secondary. A primary brain tumour starts in the brain, whereas secondary brain tumours have spread to the brain from elsewhere in the body.

Doctors usually grade tumours depending on their severity; lower grades (1 and 2) are typically benign tumours that are slower growing, while higher grades (3 and 4) are more aggressive and spread much faster; these are called malignant tumours.


Can you feel if you have a brain tumour?

People may experience no symptoms during the early stages, but as the tumour begins to grow, you are more likely to experience physical symptoms, such as headaches.


What are the common symptoms of a brain tumour?

As brain tumours grow, pressure can build up in the skull, causing various physical symptoms.

Symptoms will vary depending on where the tumour is, however, the most common symptoms are:

  • Persistent headaches that are often worse in a morning
  • Stabbing pain when you do anything that increases the pressure in your brain, such as coughing, sneezing, or bending over
  • Vision difficulties – some people experience blurred, double, or restricted fields of vision
  • Nausea and vomiting episodes, which can become more frequent
  • Fainting or seizures
  • Hearing problems – some people develop hearing loss or experience a ringing in their ears
  • Difficulties with balance
  • Cognitive changes – confusion, loss of concentration or coordination, changes in personality or behaviour
  • Problems with verbal communication, including word-finding
  • Numbness, weakness, or muscle twitching in one part or one side of the face or body

Some people also experience sudden or extreme fatigue, changes to their sleep pattern, sense of smell and pituitary gland function.


When to see a doctor

These symptoms alone do not mean you have a brain tumour; however, if you experience any of the symptoms listed above, book an appointment with your doctor.

Doctors can run a physical examination, conduct blood tests, and refer you for a CT or MRI scan to determine the cause of your symptoms.


Can you survive a brain tumour?

Figures from Cancer Research UK show that more than 1 in 10 people with brain cancer in England survive their disease for five years or more following diagnosis.

The prognosis for someone with a brain tumour can be difficult to predict as it can depend on various factors, including the type of tumour it is, its placement, the grading of the tumour and how it responds to treatment.

Treatment options can include medication, surgery, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy.

Your doctor will provide all the information you need about available treatment options.


Neurological services at Ramsay

Ramsay Health Care has a multidisciplinary team of specialists, including physiotherapists, consultants, and occupational therapists, to provide you with the best diagnosis and treatment. Ramsay Neurological Services provides a multitude of services, specialists, and support for a wide range of neurological conditions, with specialist centres in Hertfordshire and Gloucester.

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