A brain tumour is a growth of cells in the brain that multiplies in an abnormal, uncontrollable way. Brain tumours are graded according to how fast they grow and how likely they are to grow back after treatment. The grading also determines when you may experience symptoms and their level of acuteness.
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According to Cancer Research UK, the symptoms can develop gradually over months or even years if the tumour is slow growing.
The symptoms of a brain tumour also vary depending on the exact part of the brain affected.
One warning sign to watch out for is an impaired ability to see out of the corner of your eyes, explains the charity.
Losing the ability to see out of the corner of your eyes can cause you to bump into cars or objects on your left or right side, notes the health note.
In addition, you may find that your eyesight is generally getting worse and glasses are not helping, or your vision comes and goes, says the charity.
Other eye-related symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Floating shapes
- Tunnel vision
- Other common symptoms include:
- Headaches, which can be dull and constant, or throbbing
- Seizures (fits)
- Persistently feeling sick (nausea), being sick (vomiting) and drowsiness
- Mental or behavioural changes, such as memory problems or changes in personality
- Progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
When should I see a GP?
According to the NHS, you should see a GP if you have these types of symptoms, particularly if you have a headache that feels different from the type of headache you usually get, or if headaches are getting worse.
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As the health body points out, you may not have a brain tumour, but these types of symptoms should be checked.
“If your GP cannot identify a more likely cause of your symptoms, they may refer you to a doctor who specialises in the brain and nervous system (neurologist) for further assessment and tests, such as a brain scan,” adds the health site.
Am I at risk?
The cause of most brain tumours is unknown, but there are several risk factors which may increase your chances of developing a brain tumour.
According to Cancer Research UK, one risk factor you cannot change is age. Although brain tumours can start at any age, the risk increases as you get older.
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The risk of brain tumours is greatest in those aged between 85 and 89 years, says the charity.
Another unchangeable risk factor is family history and genetic conditions – some genetic conditions are known to increase the risk of getting a brain tumour, including tuberous sclerosis, neurofibromatosis type 1, neurofibromatosis type 2 and Turner syndrome, explains the NHS.
There are steps you can take to reduce your risk, however, such as maintaining a healthy weight.
“Being overweight or obese increases the risk of some cancer types, including a type of brain tumour called meningioma,” explains Cancer Research UK.
According to the charity, about two out of 100 brain tumours diagnosed in the UK every year are caused by being overweight or obese.
To reduce your risk, it is therefore imperative to maintain a healthy weight by keeping physically active and eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Exposure to radiation is another avoidable risk factor, notes the NHS.
“Exposure to radiation accounts for a very small number of brain tumours; some types of brain tumours are more common in people who have had radiotherapy, CT scans or X-rays of the head,” it says.
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