Brain cancer: a scary diagnosis
The good news is that brain cancer affects less than 1 percent of the world’s population; the bad news is that brain tumors are often accompanied by very few symptoms, and brain tumor symptoms disguise themselves as everyday ailments such as headaches and exhaustion. Read on for eight silent but serious brain tumor symptoms, and how you should know whether or not to see a doctor.
It can be very difficult for even doctors to tell the difference between headaches (or full-on migraines) caused by brain tumors and those resulting from other reasons. “The best indicator is a new daily headache that won’t seem to go away,” says Mike Chen, MD, PhD, associate professor in the division of neurosurgery, department of surgery, at City of Hope in California. “These headaches tend to get worse over time and are often present when you wake up in the morning, when intracranial pressure is high from lying in bed for . . . long periods of time.” This pain can vary greatly regardless of the size or growth rate of the tumor. “A small, fast-growing tumor can cause as severe of a headache as a large, slow-growing tumor,” says Santosh Kesari, MD, PhD, neuro-oncologist and chair of the department of translational neuro-oncology and neurotherapeutics at John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, California. And there’s no specific type of headache that can predict whether or not a person has a brain tumor. The key is to be on the lookout for new, persistent headaches that do not respond to any treatments, such as over-the-counter medicines. Find out the 15 subtle signs of cancer that women are likely to ignore.