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The symptoms of brain cancer

In partnership with the Mark Hughes Foundation

2 minute read
Female brain cancer patient talking to her nurse.

We all know that smoking can lead to lung cancer and long-term drinking can lead to liver cancer, but when it comes to brain cancer, it seems that there’s no stereotypical patient. From children to the elderly and even the marathon-running, green juice-drinking young people in-between, brain cancer is a disease that doesn’t seem to differentiate.

Time is of the essence when it comes to diagnosing deadly cancers, which is why it’s so important to be aware of the warning signs.

To help, we’ve partnered with the Mark Hughes Foundation to put together some of the symptoms of brain cancer.

Some general symptoms may include:

  • Headaches that may vary in both severity and regularity
  • Seizures that can range from severe convulsions to mild muscle jerks
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changes in personality or ability to remember things
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Changes in ability to hear, smell, taste or see
  • Loss of balance or fine motor skills
  • Sluggishness, weakness or paralysis in parts of the body
  • Loss of consciousness

I’ve got some symptoms of brain cancer, what next?

First of all, the symptoms associated with brain cancer could have a number of causes – they could stem from something as simple as a virus or stress. However, if you are concerned, it’s important to make an appointment with your GP.

If your GP wants to investigate your symptoms in more detail, you may be sent for extra tests like MRIs, CT scans, blood tests, angiograms, x-rays and neurological exams.

Credit: nib health funds

Treatment options for brain cancer

Brain cancer is one of the trickiest cancers to treat because of your body’s blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier protects your brain from harmful chemicals or germs that may be in your blood - but unfortunately, this means that it stops many types of chemotherapy from getting to the tumour. However, there are certain types of chemotherapy that have been proven to help – Temozolomide is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs that can get through this barrier.

When it comes to surgery, tumours can be difficult to remove because they’re often located in a delicate part of the brain – and also if a surgeon removes the original tumour, there’s always a chance that tiny unseen parts of it remain in the brain.

Radiation therapy is another option that can help lengthen the lives of people with brain cancer.

Doctors and care teams may also prescribe medication to help ease the symptoms associated with brain cancer; these can include steroids and anticonvulsants (anti-seizure medicines).

With the hard work that the Mark Hughes Foundation is doing for those with brain cancer, the hope is that over the next decade, funding and research into treatment will continue to grow.

For more information on the work that the Mark Hughes Foundation is doing, check out our article Finding a cure for brain cancer: Where are we at?

About the author

Mark Hughes is a celebrated NRL athlete, playing for the Newcastle Knights from 1997-2005. In 2013, Mark was diagnosed with brain cancer and together with his wife Kirralee, they founded the Mark Hughes Foundation to raise awareness and find a cure for the disease.

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