June 22, 2024

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The Risks of Delayed Diagnosis of Brain Tumours

The last week of October was Brain Tumour Awareness Week. This is a cause that’s extremely important, since the potential consequences of an undiagnosed brain tumour can be disastrous. The more awareness that can be raised about the symptoms, the better; it might be that simply starting a conversation can cause the information to spread to those who need it. It might even help a tumour to be diagnosed earlier.

What is a brain tumour?

A tumour occurs when cells grow in an uncontrolled way. The result is a fleshy mass that, in the brain, can put pressure on the surrounding tissue. There are more than a hundred different sorts of brain tumour recognised by Cancer Research UK. Fortunately, they share a few common characteristics, which can give us hope when it comes to early intervention.

Brain tumours are graded from one to four. The higher the number, the faster they grow, and the more likely they are to grow back after they’ve been treated.

What are the symptoms?

There are a few symptoms to watch for. The most common early sign is a persistent headache. You might also experience nausea, vomiting, fits, memory loss and personality changes. These are all symptoms we might associate with a head injury – but in the absence of any trauma coming from the outside, a medical professional might think it likely that the same symptoms are being brought about by pressure from the inside, which is coming as a result of a tumour.

The earlier you can seek medical help, the better. If you recognise that your headache is different from the sort that you’ve experienced before, then it’s better to err on the side of caution and get yourself checked out.

What are the risks of delayed diagnosis?

The later we wait before obtaining a diagnosis, the worse our prospects for treatment might be.

Shoosmiths is a law firm specialising in medical negligence. A Specialist Clinical Senior Associate from the firm, and expert in brain injury claims, Pam Westwood, recounts an instructive experience. “I recently dealt with a case where a young woman suffered a delay in diagnosis of a Grade 3 brain tumour,” she said. “Her children were incredibly young at the time, and she had all the classic symptoms of a brain tumour…However, her symptoms, which had been present for about two years before she was diagnosed, were put down to migraines, and even depression.
“Thankfully, she eventually had an MRI scan, which confirmed she had a brain tumour, and she had surgery and chemo-radiotherapy relatively quickly after. If she had received an earlier MRI scan, however, she would have avoided a long period of debilitating symptoms and would not have missed out on so much time with her young family.”

What types of brain tumour-related claims are there?

If you’ve suffered a brain tumour, then you might be tempted to seek compensation. There are several different types of claim associated with this problem. A delayed diagnosis, or a misdiagnosis, might lead to the patient not receiving the treatment they need. In cases where harm has resulted, the grounds for a claim are extremely strong.

How are they treated?

A number of treatments might be used on a person with a brain tumour. Steroids might be used to reduce the swelling, while anti-convulsant medication and other pharmaceutical interventions might be used to help manage the symptoms.

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy might be used to shrink the tumour, while surgery might be used to remove it. These are each extremely complex interventions, but if we can intervene early, the chances of success are much higher.