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Brain Tumours


Brain Tumours

A brain tumour is a development of brain cells that multiply abnormally and uncontrollably. If you experience any of the following symptoms, especially a severe and ongoing headache, consult your doctor immediately. Even though you might not have a brain tumour, these symptoms need to be investigated.

If a brain tumour originated in the brain, it is referred to as a primary tumour. If they originated elsewhere in your body and then spread to your brain, they are regarded as secondary.

Brain tumour types & grades

Brain tumours are graded according to how quickly they grow and how likely they will return following therapy.

Low-grade tumours are those with a grade of one or two, whereas high-grade tumours are graded three or four.

The two most common varieties of brain tumours are:

  • Non-cancerous benign – Low-grade (grade one or two) A brain tumour that develops slowly and is less likely to recur following therapy.
  • Cancerous malignant – High-grade (grade three or four) brain tumours can originate in the brain (primary tumours) or spread there from another location (secondary tumours); they are more likely to come back after treatment.


Brain and central nervous system cells are the primary source of primary brain cancers. They are named after the type of cell that they initially develop. Brain tumours come in more than 100 different varieties. Adults typically experience the following types:

  • Gliomas – These tumours originate in glial cells, which support the maintenance of healthy nerves. Most typically, they are cancer. Gliomas can be divided into a number of groups according to the particular cells they affect. The majority of astrocytomas occur in adulthood. The most aggressive glial tumour is a glioblastoma.
  • Meningiomas – The meninges, a delicate sheath of tissue that envelops the brain and spinal cord, are where these develop. Although they are not cancer, the pressure they put on your brain can nonetheless lead to issues.
  • Schwannomas – These harm nerve cells’ outer layer of defence. Although they are not cancer, they frequently result in hearing loss or balance issues.
  • Pituitary adenomas – These develop on your brain’s pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the skull. It produces vital hormones. These slow-growing tumours are usually not cancerous.

Brain tumour Symptoms

The location and kind of the tumour affect the symptoms of brain tumours. The location of the tumour impacts your symptoms since different parts of the brain are responsible for controlling various bodily functions.

Some tumours don’t show symptoms until they’re huge, at which point they seriously and quickly worsen one’s health. Other tumours might have symptoms that appear gradually.

Typical signs include:

  • Headaches that conventional headache medications may not be able to relieve. You might find that they’re happening more frequently or are worse than normal.
  • Seizures, especially in someone who has never had seizures before.
  • Speech or hearing changes.
  • Vision changes
  • Balance problems
  • Problems walking
  • Numbness or tingling in the legs or arms
  • Problems with memory
  • Personality changes
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Weakness in one part of the body
  • Morning vomiting without nausea

Numerous illnesses can cause these symptoms. Just because you have some of the symptoms does not mean you have a brain tumour. Consult your physician.

Doctors are frequently unable to determine the exact source of brain tumours. There aren’t many identified risk factors for adult brain tumours.

  • Radioactive exposure – Children who get head radiation are more likely to acquire brain tumours than adults.
  • Family history – Certain uncommon genetic disorders like neurofibromatosis or Li-Fraumeni syndrome have been connected to some brain cancers.
  • Age – The age group most likely to receive a brain tumour diagnosis is between 65 and 79.
  • Absence of chickenpox history – According to one study, those who have had chickenpox are less likely to get gliomas.


Your doctor will first enquire about your symptoms, general health, and family medical history in order to make a diagnosis of a brain tumour. A physical examination will follow, which will include a neurological examination. The doctor may order one or more of the following tests if there is cause to believe the patient may have a brain tumour:

  • To view detailed images of the brain, imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI are used.
  • A tumour or aberrant blood vessels can be detected via an angiogram or MRA, which uses dye and X-rays of the brain’s blood vessels.

To determine whether the tumour is cancerous, the doctor could also request a biopsy. They’ll take a sample of tissue from your brain. It could be carried out as part of the tumour removal procedure. Or they could drill a little hole in your skull and stick a needle through it. The sample will be sent to a lab for analysis.



Most brain tumours have an unknown aetiology. However, there are a few risk factors that could raise your risk of getting a brain tumour.

Risk factors consist of:

  • Age – Although some types of brain tumours are more common in childhood, the risk of developing one rises with age.
  • Previous cancers – Adults who have had leukaemia or non-Hodgkin lymphoma also have an elevated risk of developing a brain tumour later in life, as do children who have had cancer.
  • Exposure to Radiation – Only a very small percentage of brain tumours are caused by radiation exposure; some forms of brain tumours are more prevalent in people who have had radiotherapy, CT scans, or head X-rays.
  • Family history and genetic diseases – Tuberous sclerosis, neurofibromatosis types 1 and 2, and Turner syndrome are some genetic conditions known to enhance the risk of developing a brain tumour.
  • HIV or AIDS – You are around twice as likely to get a brain tumour if you have HIV or AIDS compared to the general population.


Your brain is in charge of everything your body does, including vision, hearing, speech, and movement. The areas that govern these things are damaged as brain cancer advances and presses against them. Complications include migraines, seizures, vision and hearing loss, and balance problems that may result from that. While you receive treatment for your cancer, your doctor will assist you in managing these issues.

Fatigue is a problem that many brain cancer patients face. Your body expends a lot of energy trying to combat the tumour, which is why you feel worn out. Fatigue brought on by cancer is not ordinary fatigue. It exhausts you. You have more difficulty falling asleep due to the disease as well. Even sleeping doesn’t necessarily make you feel more rested. Break up chores into manageable portions and take pauses throughout the day to prevent weariness.

Headaches are experienced by almost half of brain cancer patients. The tumour doesn’t hurt by itself. However, when it expands, it may put pressure on the brain’s delicate blood arteries and nerves. Many hours can pass between headache attacks. They may ache, throb, ache, or feel dull. They frequently get worse in the morning, or they might get worse when you cough or work out. To assist you to manage the discomfort, your doctor may prescribe medication.

If a tumour presses on particular parts of your brain, you could feel sick to your stomach. Radiation and chemotherapy used to treat cancer also cause nausea and vomiting. Medication labelled “anti-emetic” reduces nausea. They are available as a liquid, tablet, capsule, or suppository if you are unable to ingest pills due to illness. If you are having trouble swallowing food or liquids or if you have been throwing up for more than 24 hours, call your doctor right once.

The areas of your brain that assist with language processing and speech are susceptible to cancer. When describing objects, you could have trouble finding the appropriate words or mispronouncing them (using “chair” instead of “table,” for example). Additionally, it may be more difficult to follow a discussion or understand what other people are saying. Language barriers can be annoying. When you speak, be calm and speak slowly. Additionally, a speech-language pathologist can aid in communicating.

The occipital lobe of the brain is responsible for processing what your eyes see. Your vision might be impacted by a tumour in this area of the brain. Vision problems include haziness, double vision, and floating dots may indicate a brain tumour. When you quickly shift positions or stand up, your vision may get blurry. Visit your doctor for a vision exam if you have any of these symptoms. Surgery and other tumour-reducing procedures can help with eyesight issues.

The inner ear nerves that transmit sound from your ear to your brain may be under strain from a tumour. You may first lose the capacity to hear high-pitched or low-pitched noises, depending on where the tumour is located. Ear ringing is another typical symptom. One ear may be the sole one to experience hearing loss, which might develop gradually.

Your coordination and balance are governed by the cerebellum, a region in the lowest part of your brain. This area aids in maintaining your balance. Your equilibrium may be affected by a cerebellar tumour, causing you to stumble or drop objects. Consult a physical therapist if you struggle with your balance. To move around safely, you might require a walker or cane. Wear non-slip shoes, and steer clear of uneven or slippery areas when you’re walking.

More than half of brain cancer patients experience changes in personality or mood. It’s typical to have higher levels of rage, withdrawal, anxiety, or irritability. You may have experienced some of these changes as a result of your cancer diagnosis and treatment. Others begin when the tumour spreads to your brain’s emotional and mood-controlling regions. Speak to your physician or a mental health professional. You can better manage your situation with therapy.

Chemicals released by tumours increase your body’s propensity to clot your blood. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a clot in a deep leg vein, affects around 1 in 5 persons with brain tumours. It can be fatal if the clot travels to your lungs (pulmonary embolism). If your leg is swollen, red, or sensitive, visit a physician. Blood thinners can stop the clot from growing larger and stop the formation of additional clots.

It’s possible that both the brain tumour and its treatments are to blame if you’re forgetful. Depending on where they are located, tumours can damage both short- and long-term memory. Chemotherapy and other treatments impair focus and cause mental fuzziness. It’s sometimes referred to as “chemo brain.” To remind you, use a notebook, daily planner, or smartphone app. You can learn how to simplify duties at home and at work from an occupational therapist.

Seizures, which are abrupt bursts of aberrant brain electrical activity, occur in about 60% of persons with brain cancer. By altering brain cells or substances in a way that causes nerve cells to fire excessively frequently, tumours may cause them. Some people shake during a seizure. Some people just pause and stare. Medication for seizures can be helpful. Avoid triggers as well, such as loud noises and lack of sleep.

You process touch by using a part of the brain known as the parietal lobe. This region of the brain may go numb or experience a tingling sensation similar to pins and needles if there is a tumour there. The numbness frequently only affects one side of your body, such as one arm or leg. It’s also possible that one side of your body is weaker than the other. Inform your physician about these symptoms.

The cancer-reducing therapies you receive may include the following and will lessen side effects:

  • Surgery to get rid of the tumour as much as feasible.
  • High-energy X-rays are used in radiation therapy to either kill or halt the growth of cancer cells.
  • Cancer cells are eliminated by chemotherapy drugs.
  • The components of cancer cells that aid in growth and multiplication are attacked by targeted therapy.
  • A machine that generates an electric field is used in alternating electric field therapy to decrease the growth and spread of malignant cells.

When to call a doctor

If you have any of the aforementioned symptoms, especially a severe and ongoing headache, consult your doctor. Even though you might not have a brain tumour, these kinds of symptoms need to be investigated.

Your GP may send you to a neurologist (a specialist in the brain and neurological system) for additional evaluation and tests, such as a brain scan if they are unable to determine a more likely explanation of your symptoms.


When determining how to treat your brain tumour, your doctor will take into account a number of factors, including:

  • Tumour location
  • Tumour size
  • Tumour type
  • Whether the tumour has spread
  • Your overall health
  • Any potential complications

Once a brain tumour is diagnosed, surgery to remove the tumour is usually the initial course of action. But because of where some tumours are located in the brain, surgery may not be an option. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be used in certain situations to destroy or reduce the tumour.

After surgery, you might receive chemotherapy or radiation to eliminate any cancer cells that might still be present. Your doctor may employ gamma knife treatment, a type of highly focused radiation therapy, to treat tumours that are deep within the brain or in regions that are challenging to access.

Because cancer treatments might harm healthy tissue, you should discuss any potential long-term side effects of the current course of therapy with your doctor. They can describe the danger and the loss of specific faculties. The doctor might also discuss how crucial it is to prepare for rehabilitation after treatment. Working with multiple different therapists during rehabilitation may include:

  • To recover balance and strength, physical therapy
  • Speech therapists for assistance with swallowing, speaking, or expressing one’s opinions
  • Occupational therapist to assist with daily tasks like dressing, washing, and using the restroom

Mobile devices and the risk of brain tumours

According to current research, cell phones do not contribute to health issues like brain tumours.

Who is impacted – Children can develop brain tumours, but adults of any age can develop them as well. However, older adults tend to develop them more frequently.