There could be another way to identify brain tumour sufferers, as researchers have found a language test could help GPs determine whether people with common symptoms, such as headaches, might, in fact, have something far more sinister.
The Brain Tumour Charity funded a study of 270 people, which tested those with brain tumours and those with headaches who did not have brain tumours.
The findings showed that those with brain tumours had significantly lower ‘verbal fluency task’ than the control group.
The first symptom of a brain tumour is often a headache. However, for every 1,000 people who go to the GP with a headache, just a couple will have a tumour. Therefore, this could be a helpful triage test to help identify who would be in urgent need of a brain scan or not.
According to the study, published in BMC Neuroscience, 87.5 per cent of those who had a poor score in the test, which involves naming as many animals as possible in a minute, had a brain tumour.
It also revealed almost half (48.1 per cent) of those with a good score did not have a brain tumour.
In conclusion, people who got a score of 14 or above were nearly eight times more likely to be brain tumour-free. On the other hand, a poor rating increased the likelihood of a brain tumour by more than three times.
Ben Wilson is one such patient who went to see his GP when he was having severe headaches and dizzy spells. He said he only booked an appointment as he was furloughed from his job as an area manager for a brewery in 2020 and had more time on his hands.
The 34-year-old was subsequently diagnosed with a low-grade Pilocytic Astrocytoma and underwent treatment just seven days after the initial GP appointment. Find out more about Gamma Knife Surgery in the UK for brain tumour recovery.