Worried that you might have a brain tumour? The NHS is very much open. But it needs your help.
There’s been some noise this week in the press about the impact that Covid 19 has had on the delivery of cancer services. It’s hard cutting through the noise to hear what is relevant and meaningful for people living with a brain tumour, or who are worried that they might have a brain tumour.
The bottom line is that for all cancers essential and urgent cancer treatment has been maintained – 10,792 people began treatment following an urgent referral in April, nearly 80% of the number in April 2019. A record number of people started treatment for cancer in March, and across March and April cancer treatment was maintained at 97% of the level in 2019.
But we know that people are reluctant to see their GP or go to A&E. The number of urgent referrals coming through the diagnostic system fell significantly in April. However, recent data suggests that referrals are now at roughly 60% of the pre-pandemic run-rate. Through the NHS’s “Help us to help you” campaign, people are being urged to go to their GP if they have any concerning symptoms.
A recent survey of over 2,000 people in UK revealed that 44% of people didn’t know anything about brain cancer. Why would they? It’s a less common cancer. But most people we speak to know of someone who has been diagnosed with a brain tumour.
So if you are worried you have a brain tumour what do you look for? Because there are so many different types of brain tumour, there are a number of brain tumour symptoms and signs, depending on the nature of the brain tumour and where it is. And these may be very severe, or may not be apparent at all, so it is a very broad spectrum with which we are dealing. Please remember this if you haven’t been diagnosed with a brain tumour. It is a rare condition and having a headache for more than a week does not mean that you necessarily have a brain tumour.
A GP will look for ‘progressive neurological deficit’. What does this mean? Well if you, or a loved one, has had neurological symptoms that seem to be getting worse over time then this is progressive. By neurological these could be:
- Headaches which are more severe in the morning
- Nausea and vomiting
- Numbness, loss of sensation
- Hearing loss
- Visual disturbances, such as double vision
- Speech difficulties, such as having difficulty getting words out, or loss of ability to write
- Memory loss, confusion, drowsiness, changes in behaviour.
More information about how a brain tumour is diagnosed can be found here.
If you are worried then the NHS is still open:
- If you need medical help, the NHS is still here for you.
- If you have a symptom that you are worried about, you must contact your GP practice.
- If you are asked to go to hospital, it is important that you go.
- Cancer diagnosis, treatment and care are continuing, and the NHS is working to ensure that these services return to operating as they did before.