Brain tumour: Cancer Research UK on 'different types' in 2017
Around 9,000 people every year are diagnosed with a brain tumour of which around half are benign and half are malignant (cancerous).
In some cases, they can be very slow-growing, with recent research looking at changes in immune function showing malignant gliomas may take five years to become clinically apparent.
Detecting cancer early increases the chances of successful treatment.
But unfortunately, according to Dr Deborah Lee of Dr Fox Online Pharmacy, there is often a delay in diagnosis as the symptoms can be misleading and put down to other conditions.
She said: “In a 2019 study from Kings, the authors interviewed 39 patients with brain tumours and their families and found that most often, patients experienced a range of subtle signs rather than florid symptoms in the months before their diagnosis.”
READ MORE Boy, 6, diagnosed with brain tumour after he started getting headaches
The subtle signs cited in the study were:
- Changes in writing
- Changes in speaking
- Changes in comprehension
- Changes in memory
- Changes in concentration
- Changes in multitasking
- Sleep difficulties
- Abnormal feelings in the head
Dr Lee added: “Their relatives reported they lost interest in daily activities and started failing to engage with the world around them.
“It’s vital to raise awareness of these symptoms for both GPs and patients.”
As a brain tumour enlarges it increases the pressure inside the brain, causing a variety of other symptoms.
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Dr Lee said these can include:
- Headaches – typically waking with a headache first thing in the morning.
- Headaches are severe and persistent.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred visioN
- Behavioural and personality changes
- Neurological signs such as speech difficulty, visual problems, and/or paralysis affecting one side of the body.
Dr Lee explained: “When a brain tumour is causing symptoms and signs of raised intracranial pressure it is likely to be reasonably advanced and is causing a blockage to the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) around the brain and spinal cord.
“The exact symptoms and signs of the tumour depend on the position of the tumour within the brain, the size and how it is pressing on surrounding structures.”
See your GP if you have any symptoms suggestive of a brain tumour.
Dr Lee added: “The vast majority of people with some of these symptoms will not have a brain tumour.
“But if you have symptoms such as persistent headaches when you wake in the morning or ongoing unexplained nausea and vomiting, don’t leave it, see your GP.”
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