Brain tumour: Simple memory test could help you diagnose the deadly disease – new study

Brain tumour: Cancer Research UK on 'different types' in 2017

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

Spotting brain tumours is a difficult task for medical professionals. The symptoms of the devastating condition can be vague and confused with other health issues. For example, persistent headaches and coordination problems are two common brain tumour symptoms. Also, GPs investigating suspected brain tumours have no proper screening tools to decide who gets further brain scans. According to The Brain Tumour Charity, these health professionals only detect one percent of tumours during initial investigation, and sufferer’s often go years without a diagnosis – at which point they will likely be experiencing devastating symptoms.

But a new study, authored by Doctor Paul Brennan at the University of Edinburgh, shows a simple verbal fluency test might be able to reduce brain tumour misdiagnosis numbers.

The “Noah’s Ark” test, as The Brain Tumour Charity called it, was found to help identify people with common symptoms who are likely to have a brain tumour.

There are many types of brain tumours, ranging from benign grade 1 and 2 tumours, as well as malignant grade 3 and 4 tumours.

Only 12 percent of adults survive five years after a malignant tumour diagnosis and even benign tumours can have life-changing effects – causing regular seizures, nausea and vomiting.

According to the “Noah’s Ark” study, 87.5 percent of people with a poor score on the test – being able to identify less than 14 animals – had a brain tumour, while 48.1 percent of people with a good score did not have a brain tumour.

The study, which looked at 207 people, suggests the test could make it easier for GPs to decide who needs expensive rapid imaging, such as MRI scans, ensuring people with brain tumours are diagnosed quicker.

Dr David Jenkinson, Chief Scientific Officer at The Brain Tumour Charity, which funded the study, said: “Untangling key symptoms of brain tumours from those caused by other less serious conditions can be really difficult and it’s really exciting that research to develop triage tests like this is showing such promise.”

But for those who already suffered the devastating effects of years of brain tumour misdiagnosis, the new test comes as a missed opportunity.

High cholesterol: The alcoholic drink shown to lower levels [TIPS]
Cancer: Two warning signs that show up on the face [ADVICE]
Liam Neeson: Star’s ‘agonising’ pain spurred by caffeine [INSIGHT]

Heather Dearie, 35 from Ayrshire, was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma brain tumour having visited a GP more than 10 times with her symptoms over a period of 18 months.

An acoustic neuroma is a non-cancerous brain tumour that grows on the nerve used for hearing slowly over many years, explains the NHS.

She said: “Having my brain tumour diagnosed earlier could have changed my life completely and meant I would have had little to none of the lifelong side effects I have now.

“I was misdiagnosed for 18 months before my tumour was finally discovered and by then it was too late for any alternative treatment to surgery, which caused facial paralysis, 50 per cent deafness, balance and vision issues, fatigue, nerve damage, muscle spasms and because there is still some residual tumour.

“I’ve had to have four corrective surgeries which I wouldn’t have needed had the tumour been found earlier. I’m in constant pain and it’s affected every aspect of a normal life.”

Although the test shows promise, it now will require further testing to find out whether it works on a larger scale.

“Our findings are important in demonstrating proof-of-concept and we now need to validate this test in a larger group of patients to prove whether it could help guide referral for suspected brain cancer,” explained Dr Brennan, Honorary Consultant Neurosurgeon at the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian.

Symptoms of brain tumour

Brain tumours can affect people of any age. Dr Jenkinson explained the most common warning signs include the following:

  • Headaches
  • changes in cognition or vision
  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Sickness
  • fatigue.

He added that the headaches may become more intense over time.

The NHS advises that you should visit your GP if you experience these type of symptoms, particularly if your headache is worsening.

Source: Read Full Article