Brain Tumours

About the condition

A brain tumour is a growth of cells in the brain that multiplies in an abnormal, uncontrollable way.

Brain tumours arise in the central nervous system and may have formed in the brain tissue itself or spread from elsewhere in the body. Some can grow slowly, others more quickly. They can be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous).

Different types of brain tumours require slightly different treatment.

An outline of the grading is as follows:

  • Grade 1 – Benign tumours: cells only marginally abnormal and tend to grow very slowly
  • Grade 2 – Malignant tumours where cells appear abnormal compared to unaffected brain cells
  • Grade 3 – Malignant tumours where cells are significantly abnormal in appearance and actively growing
  • Grade 4 – Malignant tumours where cells are highly abnormal and grow rapidly.

The most appropriate treatment will be influenced by the tumour’s type, grade, size and location.

It can be a frightening prospect to be told you have a suspected brain tumour, but at CCL we’re with you every step of the way.


The symptoms of a malignant brain tumour can depend on its size and it’s location in the brain. Common symptoms include:

  • severe, persistent headaches
  • seizures (fits)
  • persistent nausea, vomiting and drowsiness
  • mental or behavioural changes, such as memory problems or changes in personality
  • progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
  • vision, or speech problems

If any of these symptoms apply to you, or if you have any concerns about similar symptoms, it is essential that you see your doctor to ensure you receive a proper diagnosis. Alternatively you can book an appointment with one of our specialists by completing this form online or by calling 020 8247 3351.


If your GP suspects you may have a tumour, or they are unsure what is causing your symptoms, it is likely you will be referred to a Neurologist. A neurological examination may involve tests of your:

  • hand and limb strength
  • reflexes, e.g. your knee-jerk reflex
  • hearing and vision
  • skin sensitivity
  • balance and co-ordination
  • memory and mental agility (using simple questions or arithmetic)

If a tumour is suspected, a biopsy may be taken to establish the type of tumour and the most effective treatment. A small hole (known as a burr hole) is made in the skull under anaesthetic and a very fine needle is used to obtain a sample of tumour tissue.


A primary malignant brain tumour should be treated as soon as possible, because it can spread and damage other parts of the brain and spinal cord. Surgery will usually need to be carried out to remove as much of the tumour as possible. This may be followed by radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancerous cells and reduce the chances of the tumour returning.

Malignant tumours will unfortunately often eventually return after treatment. If this happens, or if you have a secondary tumour, a cure may not be possible. However treatment can be used to improve symptoms and prolong life.

Book now

If you have any questions about brain tumours or would like to book an appointment with one of our brain tumour specialists, complete this form online or call 020 8247 3351.

Support Services

At CCL we provide support that caters to both the physical and emotional needs of the patient, before, during and after treatment.

Following treatment for a malignant brain tumour, you may still be left with some ongoing problems, such as speech problems, seizures or walking difficulties. At CCL we can provide a range of support services to help you recover from or adapt to these problems. We offer a wide range of services for patients, as well as their loved ones, designed to make a very difficult time as easy as possible, and to give our patients the best treatment and support possible. Our support services include counselling, group sessions and much more. You can find the full range of our support services here.

You can be assured that we’ll be with you every step of the way.

If you have any questions about cancer or would like to book an appointment with one of our specialists, complete this form online or call 020 8247 3351.


Cancer Centre London

Parkside Hospital

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