Headaches and seizures, finishing treatment, and more brain tumor myths

Are headaches and seizures certain symptoms of brain cancer? What happens after treatment? Is a benign brain tumor “safe”? This article explores some common misbeliefs.


“If I have headaches and seizures, I certainly have brain cancer”

Where does the myth come from?

Symptoms of a brain tumor can be general or specific. Sometimes, people with a brain tumor do not have any of them. In other cases, these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition that is not a brain tumor.
Headaches are a common symptom but not always related to a brain tumor.

The reality behind the myth

Every person diagnosed with a brain tumor may have different symptoms and their own journey to a diagnosis. The signs and symptoms of a brain tumor vary greatly and depend on the tumor's size, location and rate of growth.
While some people do not develop symptoms that would indicate a tumor, others may have symptoms that worsen over time eventually leading to a diagnosis, for example a persistent headache. Other still may feel perfectly fine but experience a sudden onset of symptoms, such as a seizure, which leads to a quick and unexpected tumor diagnosis. Changes in personality, having a seizure, as well as changes in vision and tiredness are other general symptoms as well.
It is important to be aware of the symptoms, so you can consult your doctor if you are concerned.




“Once treated, brain tumors never return“

Where does the myth come from?

Benign tumors, if removed by surgery, rarely develop again, except a few cases where they may recur even after 10-15 years.

The reality behind the myth

In some cases, brain tumors can be completely removed, but others can come back later. Therefore, after a diagnosis of a brain cancer, it is important to stay vigilant and work closely with the medical team.

“Brain tumors are rare”

Where does the myth come from?

As brain tumors generally comprise about 2% of all newly diagnosed adult cancers, brain cancer is believed to be a rather rare form of cancer. Benign brain tumors and malignant primary brain tumors are uncommon. Overall, they occur in about 12 in 100,000 people each year.

The reality behind the myth

Although relatively rare, brain tumors are the most common cancer among people aged 0-19, now surpassing acute lymphoblastic leukemia. They are the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children (males and females) under the age of 20.

“If the brain tumor is benign, treatment is not needed”

Where does the myth come from?

A brain tumor does not always mean cancer. In addition, not all benign tumors need treatment. If a tumor is small and isn’t causing any symptoms, doctors may recommend to follow a watch-and-wait approach. As a result, it is believed that a brain tumor that is not malignant does not require treatment.

The reality behind the myth

Benign brain tumors can be life-threatening because they can compress brain tissue and other structures inside the skull. As a result, the term "benign" can be misleading. There are many treatment options for a brain tumor: the treatment path followed (if any) may vary depending on the type, grade, size and location of the tumor; whether it has spread; age and general health. 


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Other sources include Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.

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