There are two different types of brain tumour: benign and malignant.
A benign brain tumour stays in the area of the brain that it originated in and does not travel to or affect other parts of the brain. Sometimes surgery can remove the tumour and no further treatment is needed. However the positioning of tumours can make surgery difficult. Benign tumours may redevelop over a period of time; in these instances it may be necessary to have further surgery or radiotherapy treatment.
A malignant brain tumour spreads to the part of the brain that sits around it; this in turn causes pressure on the brain. These tumours do not often spread to other parts of the body.
Things to look out for
Symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Vomiting or feeling sick – because the brain is surrounded by the skull, a growing tumour can often cause pressure to build. This is known as intracranial pressure or ICP. In turn this can make you vomit or feel as though you want to be sick
- Headaches – ICP can also cause pressure headaches; these may be most intensive in the morning and drop off during the day. They may also intensify when you are doing things that naturally increase pressure in the brain like sneezing, bending down, coughing or manual/physical work
- Drowsiness/unusual sleep patterns – you may notice that you feel more tired or drowsy or fall asleep in the middle of the day or at times which are unusual to you
- Blurred vision or ‘floating objects’ – you may experience some changes to your sight which can be caused by the increased pressure in your brain. This may cause you to have blurred or tunnel vision or experience floating objects. Changes to your sight may also cause you to feel off balance at times
- Changes in personality – brain tumours may cause changes in personality and mood. This can be difficult for both you and your family. At The Christie Clinic psychologists and counsellors are on hand to support you and your family through diagnosis, treatment and post treatment
- Seizures – tumours within the brain can often cause seizures. These can vary in severity, some causing muscle spasms which result in a twitching or jerking motion of part of the body such as an arm or a leg. More severe seizures affect the whole body and can cause unconsciousness. Seizures can be an unpleasant and frightening experience and whilst there are many medical conditions that can cause these, it is important to seek immediate medical attention
There are various other side effects relating to brain tumours, which are dependent on the positioning of the tumour within the brain. You can speak to your consultant or nurse if you would like further guidance on these.