What is a brain tumour?
A brain tumour is a growth of cells in the brain that multiplies in an abnormal, uncontrollable way.
There are over 130 different types of brain tumours which can develop in any part of the brain or spinal cord. However, there are two main types:
- Non-cancerous (benign) brain tumours – low grade (1-2)
- Cancerous (malignant) brain tumours – high grade (3-4)
Brain tumours are graded 1-4 according to their behaviour, such as their speed of growth and the likelihood of the tumour spreading. Whilst confirming the grade can be difficult, an accurate diagnosis is important to determine the treatment options available and the future behaviour of the tumour.
A tumour that develops within the brain is called a primary brain tumour, whereas a cancer that has spread to the brain from another part of the body is called a secondary brain cancer or brain metastases.
What causes a brain tumour?
Whilst the cause of secondary brain cancer can be determined, no definitive cause has been identified for primary brain tumours. However, several risk factors have been identified which increase the risk of developing a brain tumour, including: increased age, gender (males are at a slightly higher risk of developing a brain tumour), previous radiotherapy, genetic conditions, and a weakened immune system.
The symptoms caused by a brain tumour vary based on the position of the tumour and speed of growth. Symptoms can develop over months or years with a slow growing tumour, or days to weeks with a fast growing tumour. The possible symptoms are wide ranging, but include:
- Changes in personality/behaviour.
- Problems with sight, speech and hearing
- Weakness on one side of the body
- Memory loss
- Hearing voices
- Problems with reading and writing
- Loss of feeling
- Problems with coordination and balance
- Uncontrolled movements
A brain tumour is usually diagnosed by a combination of neurological examinations, imaging scans (e.g. CT, MRI, PET, and PET-CT scans), brain biopsies and lumbar punctures.
Given that the symptoms of a brain tumour can also be caused by a wide-range of other medical conditions, clinicians may not immediately suspect a brain tumour and may not request the referrals needed to make an accurate diagnosis.
If a brain tumour is suspected, it is essential that further investigations and referrals are undertaken as soon as possible. A delay in diagnosis can lead to a worse prognosis, including the need for further avoidable treatment, worsened neurological symptoms, and potentially death.
As part of Brain Tumour Awareness Month this year, Brain Tumour Research wants to raise awareness of brain tumour deaths and research funding. This year, they have discovered that:
- For the under 50s, brain tumours account for
- 1 in 10 cancer deaths in England and Wales
- For males, it is 1 in 7
- For females, it is 1 in 13
- For children, brain tumours account for 1 in 3 deaths from cancer
- Only 2% of the national investment in cancer research is now allocated to this devastating disease (just 1% since records began)
- That's 3 times less than prostate cancer, from which only 12 males under the age of 50 died in 2018
- 5 times less than leukaemia, which kills half as many under 50s than brain tumours
- 7 times less than breast cancer, despite the fact that breast cancer only kills 1.5 times more people under 50 than brain tumours
Source: Figures from the ONS (August 2019 for 2018 stats) and NCRI (Feb 2020). For 2002/3 to 2018/19 just under £100 million has been spent on research in to brain tumours, £300 million on prostate, £500 million on leukaemia, and £679 million on breast cancer.”
Brain Tumour Research is a fantastic charity based in the UK, seeking to raise awareness, campaigning for greater brain tumour research funding, and aiming to find a cure for brain tumours. For further information please visit www.braintumourresearch.org
How Burnetts Can Help
You may be entitled to bring a claim for compensation if you, or someone you care for, has suffered personal injury due to a brain tumour being misdiagnosed, a delay in diagnosis, or the treatment received not being of a reasonable standard.
Burnetts have specialist brain injury and medical negligence solicitors, who are accredited by the AvMA and Law Society Panels, who can investigate your claim and help secure compensation.
Where admissions are made, we work hard to secure interim payments to help pay for accommodation, therapy, aids and equipment and care that are needed as a result of the failings in the treatment provided. We also work closely with our Court of Protection Department to support vulnerable clients who need assistance with the management of their affairs. Where someone has sadly died, Burnetts also has expertise in dealing with claims upon behalf of the Estate of the Deceased and any Inquest.
If you would like to speak to someone within our team to discuss whether you may have a clinical negligence claim then please contact our offices on 01228 552222.