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Characteristic of headaches due to brain cancer

Headaches are a symptom that is often experienced by many people. Usually, doctors do not worry if headaches only strike occasionally, are mild, have short duration, and are caused by obvious factors, such as flu, sinus infections, hunger, lack of sleep, and so on. However, if the headache is felt so severe or frequent, then we must worry that it is not a symptom of deadly brain cancer.

Based on statistical data, in a population of patients with recurrent headaches, about 50% had brain tumors with headaches as the main complaint, and up to 60% in patients with worsening headaches. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to diagnose brain cancer based only on headache symptoms, so there must be other signs such as seizures or persistent neurological symptoms.

Get to know headaches

Headaches are complaints that can be experienced by anyone. This situation has various characteristics, ranging from locations to pain properties that are different from each other.

Headaches can be caused by various things. Broadly speaking, it is classified into organic and functional.

Functional headache

Functional headaches are complaints caused by a function abnormality without anatomic abnormalities. Headaches of this type include migraines, tension type headaches, and cluster headaches. Functional headaches are the most common type of complaint.

Organic headaches

Headaches are said to be organic if there is an anatomical abnormality that causes complaints, such as sinusitis, head impact, head bleeding, brain infection, or brain cancer.

How to distinguish headaches from brain or other cancers

Headaches that are symptoms of brain cancer are usually "tense" headaches can occur intermittently (often) with a gradual onset and subside after a few hours. Symptoms of headaches can also be throbbing, resembling migraines. Brain tumors can also inhibit the flow of cerebrospinal fluid which can cause headaches.

In patients with neurological examinations by doctors showing normal results and no other complaints, a single symptom of headache is rarely associated with a tumor or brain cancer.

Brain cancer headaches

Brain cancer generally occurs at the age of over 40 years. However, this disease can actually attack any age, even in children.

As previously explained, headaches are one of the symptoms of brain cancer. But keep in mind that not all cases of headaches are caused by brain cancer.

Headaches due to brain cancer are usually chronic and are becoming increasingly severe, along with the increase in tumor size. In addition, headaches due to brain cancer are also usually accompanied by symptoms of neurological disorders called red flag. Some additional symptoms that make you need to be aware of the possibility of brain cancer are:

  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling numb
  • There is a visual impairment
  • There is paralysis of the body, especially on one side
  • Legal disorders and swallowing
  • Personality change


If you experience signs of red flag as above, don't delay to see a neurologist. This is so that you can immediately get a follow-up check to confirm your health condition.

During the examination the doctor will usually conduct in-depth interviews, general physical examination and neurological physical examination. Investigations such as head CT scan or MRI are also sometimes needed if there is a suspicion of brain cancer.

A CT scan or MRI can detect the presence or absence of a tumor, location, and estimated type of tumor. Keep in mind that brain cancer can be a cancer that does come from the brain or due to abnormal cells that spread from other organs. For this reason, other investigations may need to be done to look for the possibility of cancer in other organs.

If the results are positive for brain cancer, the treatment techniques that can be done are surgery and radiotherapy. Both are adapted to the type, size, and location of brain cancer. In addition, rehabilitation after tumor surgery is also important for the patient to restore nerve function.

After knowing the facts above, you do not need to rush to panic if you experience a headache. This is because not every case of headache is caused by brain cancer. However, there is nothing wrong if you want to go to the doctor further, especially if you experience recurrent headaches accompanied by other symptoms mentioned above.

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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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