What is Brain tumours in Teenagers and young adults?

Brain tumours are a type of cancer that starts in the brain. They are rare cancers that affect the tissue inside the brain.

This tissue is called the central nervous system. It can be affected in many ways, depending on the type of tumour.

Brain tumours are usually diagnosed in young people. This is because the brain and central nervous system are still developing during adolescence.

Most brain tumours are low grade. This means they don’t spread outside the central nervous system.

The risk of getting a brain tumour increases with age. This is because older people are more likely to have certain genes that increase the risk.

It’s important for people to be aware of the risk factors for brain tumours. This is so they can take steps to reduce their risk.

What are the symptoms of brain tumours in teenagers and young adults?

The symptoms of a brain tumour in teenagers and young adults can be similar to those of other health conditions.

These symptoms can include:

  • Nausea and vomiting (feeling sick)
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Personality changes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling tired
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Problems with balance
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Sleepiness
  • Bladder control problems
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Lack of coordination
  • Speech difficulties
  • Problems with your sense of smell
  • Difficulty walking
  • Difficulty walking on uneven surfaces
  • A feeling that something is not right
  • A general feeling of discomfort

Brain tumours usually develop slowly. They may not cause any symptoms at the start of the tumour.

Symptoms of a brain tumour can come on quickly. This is because the tumour cells can travel to other areas of the brain.

Other symptoms may develop over the course of several weeks or months. These may be the same as those that develop with other conditions.

Symptoms of a brain tumour can be similar to other health conditions. Always see a GP if you’re worried about any symptoms you’re experiencing.

How is brain tumours in teenagers and young adults diagnosed?

Brain tumours are usually diagnosed during childhood.

If you’re diagnosed with a brain tumour in adolescence or young adulthood, you’ll usually be checked for other health problems.

Your doctor may ask you:

  • About your symptoms
  • About your health history
  • About your family’s health history
  • If you have a history of other conditions
  • About your lifestyle
  • If you’ve recently been ill
  • If you smoke
  • If you have a strong family history of cancer

Your GP may refer you to a specialist doctor. This is called a neurologist. They’ll examine you, and ask if there’s another health condition you might have.

Your specialist will ask you a number of questions about your symptoms and your general health. They’ll also want to know more about the type of tumour you have.

They’ll do a swab test. This involves taking a sample from the tumour using a swab.

Your specialist will send this sample to a laboratory. This is to check for signs of cancer. Your specialist will also ask about your family history of cancer. They’ll want to know if anyone in your family has had cancer.

They’ll discuss the results of the swab test with you. They’ll also ask you about any possible treatment options.

If you have a brain tumour, you may have a number of tests. These will help your specialist to check that your brain tumour is the cause of your symptoms.

These tests include:

  • A CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Blood tests
  • A biopsy of the tumour
  • A PET scan
  • An ophthalmoscope test

You may also have a PET scan if your specialist thinks you may have a brain tumour.

If your specialist thinks you may have a brain tumour, they’ll refer you to a specialist clinic. This is where you’ll have further tests.

If you don’t have a brain tumour, your specialist may refer you to a neuro-oncologist. This is a doctor who specialises in treating brain tumours.

You may also be referred for treatment if you have symptoms of a brain tumours.

When can I expect to be diagnosed with a brain tumour in teenagers and young adults?

Your GP will usually be the first to diagnose a brain tumour in young people.

If your GP doesn’t think you have a brain tumour, they’ll refer you to your specialist.

It can take a while to find out the right specialist for you. It often takes a few months to find the right specialist.

If you’re diagnosed with a brain tumour, you’ll need to see a specialist.

You should also receive regular check-ups. This will help to treat any symptoms that develop.

What are the treatment options for a brain tumour in teenagers and young adults?

Your specialist team will have a number of treatment options for a brain tumour.

These will depend on the type of brain tumour you have, how big it is and how quickly it is growing.

Some brain tumours can be treated through surgery. This involves removing the tumour.

Other brain tumours may be treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

There are also a number of targeted treatments. These use drugs to target the specific change in the cells of the tumour that is causing the problem.

The treatment you’ll be offered will depend on your age, your general health and how the tumour is affecting you.

The treatment you’re offered will also depend on how fast the tumour is growing.

Your specialist may refer you to a specialist centre for advanced brain tumours.

Final thoughts

It’s important to remember that a brain tumour is a serious health condition.

Your specialist team will use their specialist knowledge to help you manage this condition.

It’s important to work closely with your specialist and your care team.

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