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HeadWay, Issue #140 -- Recognizing Brain Tumours
March 21, 2016

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In this issue:

Recognizing Brain Tumours

Don't Miss These Articles at Headache and Migraine News...

Say what?! Tumour (and Tumor)

Do you believe in the service that HeadWay provides to those with migraine, cluster, and other types of headache, as well as their doctors, family, and friends? Consider sponsoring HeadWay with a one or two line ad. For more information, visit this page.

Recognizing Brain Tumours

Frances was familiar with migraine attacks. And in 2011, she was in the midst of study for medical school exams. With the common wisdom about migraine and stress, it was easy to see why her symptoms might get worse, or change.

In fact, talking with her mother one day, she found herself at a loss for words - literally. For a whole minute, she couldn't say anything.

Simply a progression in her migraine aura symptoms? Many speech problems are common with migraine. And that's what Frances thought.

But when her family urged her to go to a doctor, a brain tumour (brain tumor) was discovered.

Strange symptoms and intense pain make most migraine patients wonder at one time or another - is it a brain tumour?

The same bad news came to Kian, who had familiar migraine symptoms. Headache, vomiting. He was diagnosed with stomach problems, then migraine - but thanks to the persistence of his mother, doctors finally did a scan and discovered the tumour.

But doctors are reluctant to get the public thinking about brain tumours because they are actually so rare. Even with strange symptoms and severe headache, chances are extremely slim that you have one.

So how can we protect ourselves, without getting panicky, or without getting unnecessary scans? Here are some simple tips:
  1. Don't panic. Brain tumours are very rare. Also, many are not even cancerous. Even if they are, there are treatments available.
  2. If you have new symptoms, see a doctor. If the doctor diagnoses you with a headache condition such as migraine, go to #3.
  3. If attacks get worse or more frequent, or symptoms change, see your doctor again. It may still be a headache disorder such as migraine, but if things continue to get worse, it's time to get serious about doing more investigation.
  4. Tell your doctor if you smoke or have a history of cancer. It's best to see a doctor who knows your medical history, and even the history of your family.
  5. Watch in particular for the symptoms listed below, and mention them to your doctor. If your doctor doesn't seem to be listening or taking you seriously, find another doctor.
So what kinds of symptoms should you watch for? Here are some examples. Remember, none of these are a guarantee that you have a brain tumour - they are just a reason to see the doctor and do a little more investigation.
  • Your headaches are worse in the morning, or after a nap.
  • Your headaches are worse with coughing, sneezing, or straining.
  • You have vision/hearing problems (be specific when you talk to your doctor).
  • You or family/friends notice weakness, dizziness, confusion, or changes in behaviour. Watch out as well for signs of seizures - Frances' inability to speak would be an example.
By the way, both Frances and Kian are doing well now from what I hear, although Frances knows that the tumour has probably shortened her life. Both are involved in raising awareness for brain tumour funding and research in the UK.

You can help by visiting Brain Tumour Research (Kian) or BrainsTrust (Frances).

Here are some organizations to check out outside of the UK: American Brain Tumor Association (USA), Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation (Australia)

Read more about Francis here, and Kian here.

Also see a summary of this information at Brain Tumor or Migraine?

Don't Miss These Articles at Headache and Migraine News...

A few new articles to check out:

Say what?! Tumour (and Tumor)

No matter how you spell it, the word strikes fear into the heart. But just what is a tumour?

Contrary to popular belief, tumour and cancer are not the same thing. A tumour, also called a neoplasm, is any kind of abnormal growth or abnormal tissue. In fact, some tumours are not harmful to your health at all.

Tumours can be classified as benign (non-cancerous), pre-malignant (pre-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Beyond this, there are many, many different types of tumours, including 120 types of brain tumours.

For more information, see Tumors: Benign, Premalignant and Malignant.

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
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