Understanding Brain Tumours: 7 Common Myths And The Facts

gamma knife surgery - doctor point brian scan image

Receiving a brain tumour diagnosis is a difficult experience, and there is a lot of new information to take in. Sometimes, a patient or their families may have some preconceived ideas about brain tumours that are based on common misconceptions rather than facts.

Here are some of the most common misunderstandings about brain tumours, and a look at what the reality of the situation is.


All brain tumours are cancerous

Brain tumours are not always cancerous (also described as malignant). They can also be non-cancerous (also described as benign). Cancerous brain tumours are more likely to grow quickly and spread to other parts of the body, and so require urgent treatment. However, it’s also important to be aware of the next point.


Benign brain tumours are not serious

Brain tumours that are non-cancerous (benign) can still cause serious symptoms, depending on the location in the brain. If the tumour is pressing on certain nerve cells or fibres, it can disrupt the messaging between the brain and the body, causing a range of symptoms. These can be serious, including seizures, paralysis, vision disturbances, or cognitive issues.


Using mobile phones can cause brain tumours

Since the advent of widespread mobile phone use over 20 years ago, there has been persistent rumours about the link between brain tumours and mobile phone use. However, there is no convincing evidence that mobile phone use causes brain tumours, or any type of cancer.

Although high doses of electromagnetic waves can be dangerous for human health, the doses emitted by mobile phones are very weak and present no risk, according to Cancer Research UK.


Brain tumours are usually inoperable

Brain tumours can be serious and the treatment is subject to many variables, such as the size, type, and location of the tumour and the age and general health of the patient. However, there are now many advanced techniques of treating brian tumours. Neurosurgery is possible to successfully a brain tumour in some cases.

In other cases, the tumour may be treated with radiosurgery. One of the most advanced methods is known as stereotactic radiotherapy, or sometimes called Gamma Knife surgery.

This involves using an external machine to target very precise and intense doses of gamma rays from multiple angles at the tumour to kill the cells, whilst leaving the surrounding healthy tissue intact.


Brain tumours will always cause severe headaches

Although severe and persistent headaches can be a symptom of a brain tumour, if this is the only symptom you are experiencing, there could be another cause. For example, it may be due to migraines or fatigue. Brain tumour symptoms vary depending on the size and location of the tumour, and sometimes they cause very few symptoms at all.


Brain tumours run in families

While certain genetics may be a risk factor for a brain tumour, it is believed to be quite rare. Research is still ongoing into the exact causes, but risk factors include age, obesity, and previous exposure to radiation.