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Brain cancer signs, types and grades. Know yours.

The background to brain tumours

In the UK, almost 11,700 people are diagnosed with a brain tumour each year. Whilst brain tumours come in all shapes and sizes; depending on type, location and stage – the symptoms can also vary widely. Tumours develop in different parts of the brain and vary as to size. Tumours arise from different types of cells and will grow at faster or slower rates and will be categorised according to these various factors. In addition common tumours in adults and children are not the same.

Symptoms that can reveal a brain tumour

Brain tumours often resemble the symptoms of other illnesses, from loss of smell to loss of memory – so often the list of physical and mental symptoms are endless. However, some warning signs to be aware of are:

  • Seizures
  • Sudden onset of poor vision
  • Difficulty in speech
  • Persistent headaches
  • Personality changes

A prompt consultation with a doctor is important for an early diagnosis and treatment.

Common types of tumour

The most common primary brain tumour (more than half) in adults is glioblastoma (glioma). They develop from the glial cells which are the supporting cells in the brain or spinal cord. Astrocytomas are a sub set of this type of tumour and are the commonest occurring glioma. They usually arise in the largest part of the brain, the cerebrum and can be any grade.

Other common tumours (around a quarter) are meningiomas. The meninges are the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord. In children one of the most common tumours is medulloblastoma.

Other tumours include:

  • Acoustic neuroma – on the acoustic nerve between ear and brain
  • Haemanioblastoma – develops from cells lining the brain/ blood vessels
  • Pineal region tumour – develops in the pineal gland
  • Pituitary tumour – develops in pituitary gland
  • Craniopharyngioma – above pituitary gland near cranial nerve

Being allocated a grade

Tumours are given a grading from 1-4 and are also categorised as low or high grade. The more abnormal the appearance of the cells on histopathology, the higher the grade allocated. Low grade tumours tend to grow slowly and are often non cancerous. High grade tumours grow faster and are often cancerous.

Diagnosis and treatment options

Scanning is crucial to planning treatment for brain tumours to identify the position and size of the tumour. Most commonly CT or MRI imaging will be used. A CT scan creates a 3D image of the brain and sometimes contrast is used to highlight this. An MRI scan or magnetic resonance imaging uses magnetism, not radiation to create an image of the brain.

Biopsy takes a sample from the tumour for laboratory testing to confirm the type and grade of tumour.

After diagnosis, a decision is made as to whether there will be immediate intervention or follow up by monitoring which can be for an extended period before intervention is considered. Monitoring will often be recommended for low grade tumours.

Generally surgery precedes other treatment such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Other medication may be required to support a patient such as anti-convulsants, anti-sickness or steroids.

Survival rates for brain tumour

Although there are many risks with treatments, some types, such as meningioma and oligodendroglioma are very treatable and can be cured while others are less responsive. Other details such as grading type increase or decrease life expectancy. Each predicted mortality rate will depend on an individual’s circumstances.

Brain tumour lawyers

Our lawyers work tirelessly to help each person’s unique situation when considering claims. Brain tumours are not always easy to diagnose as they can present with non specific symptoms. On rare occasions, it is possible that the standard of treatment received may fall short of that which the medical profession itself would expect. Examples of negligent care include:

  • Failure to interpret radiology correctly
  • Failure to refer for urgent scanning
  • Delay in primary care due to symptoms not being recognised as typical of brain tumour
  • Inappropriate treatment
  • Surgical error

We have significant experience investigating these types of claims and have strong relationships with a wide range of experts to support us. We are affiliated with Brain Tumour Support; recognised for our expertise in brain tumour and other cancer related claims.

If you would like to find out more about how our specialist team can support you, please see our brochure on claims related to brain tumours. Alternatively, you can contact our team directly or by calling 0800 316 8892.


Your key contact

Marguarita Tyne

Head of Personal Injury & Medical Negligence

Marguarita Tyne is a claimant clinical negligence solicitor who investigates and brings claims on behalf of patients who have been injured during the course of their medical treatment, acting mainly (but not exclusively) for brain injury claimants in high value and often complex litigation.
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