Cancer Keys: Brain Tumours and Headaches

24th February 2021

Whilst many people may associate brain tumours with headaches, often affected patients do not present with a headache until a later stage, if at all.

Potential pitfall:

Only up to 16% of brain tumour patients present to their GP with an isolated headache*; some diagnosed patients will never develop a headache. It is important to be vigilant for other progressive neurological symptoms including visual field loss, personality changes or new-onset seizures.

Helpful hint:

NICE NG12 guidelines advise an urgent direct access MRI (or CT) scan within two weeks for adults with progressive, sub-acute loss of central neurological function (or a suspected cancer referral if MRI/CT unavailable), or a very urgent referral (within 48 hours) for children and young people with newly abnormal cerebellar or other central neurological function.

Cancer Keys are brought to you by GatewayC.

Find out more: 

Watch GatewayC’s ‘Headache or Brain Tumour?’ webinar recording here

Download this Cancer Key here

Access GatewayC’s ‘Brain Tumour – Early Diagnosis’ course here

*Pract, J. (2008) Imaging patients with suspected brain tumour: guidance for primary care 

Estimates of the proportion of patients with tumour who present with isolated headache range between 2% and 16%

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