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08 November 2022

Brain tumours: an overview

3 mins

Brain tumour diagnoses are devastating and can have profound consequences for individuals and families impacted.

According to Cancer Research UK, approximately 12,288 new cases of brain tumours are diagnosed each year, and with roughly 12% of individuals surviving brain tumours for five or more years, awareness of the symptoms and early diagnosis are essential for treatment. Below, we provide a brief overview of brain tumours, their symptoms and treatment, and what to do if you experience medical negligence during diagnosis or treatment.

What are brain tumours?

Brain tumours are growths of cells in the brain that form, multiply and grow in an abnormal way. Once recognised, tumours are graded according to how fast they grow, and how likely they are to return after treatment.

According to Cancer Research UK, there are over 130 different types of brain tumours. However, there are two main categories:

  1. Benign (non-cancerous) tumours: these are described as low grade (1 or 2). They grow slowly and are less likely to return after treatment.
  2. Malignant (cancerous) tumours: these are described as ‘high grade’ (3 or 4), and either start in the brain, or spread to the brain from elsewhere. These tumours are more likely to return after treatment.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of brain tumours include, but are not limited to:

  • Headaches
  • Seizures (also known as fits)
  • Persistent nausea
  • Psychological or behavioural changes, for example, memory problems or changes in personality
  • Progressive weakness or paralysis in one side of the body
  • Vision or speech issues


There are various possible treatments for brain tumours. The route followed depends largely on the type and grade of tumour, and the area of the brain in which it is located. Oncologists may choose to follow one of the following treatment options:

  • Medication to relieve symptoms
  • Surgery
  • Radiotherapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Steroids

Negligent treatment

It may be possible to make a claim for compensation if you receive negligent treatment. Examples of negligent treatment might include:

  • Radiation that has been improperly delineated, resulting in the continued growth or recurrence of a section of the tumour.
  • Surgery to remove the tumour that goes wrong. As the brain is a particularly delicate organ, surgery can be intricate and risky, and isn’t always safe to perform. Sadly, negligent treatment in relation to surgery can sometimes result in further harm or a traumatic brain injury.
  • Late or misdiagnosis. As with many cancers, the sooner a brain tumour is diagnosed, the better. Late diagnoses can be devastating and have a severe impact on treatment and prognosis.

For more information about our Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury team and the services we offer, visit our web page here.

Holly Crowder, paralegal in our Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury team, contributed to this article.

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