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Brain tumour symptoms are greatly determined by the location of the mass, but headaches and seizures are among the most frequently reported. In many instances, these signs indicate an increase in intracranial pressure or an excessive firing of neurons in the brain. Treatment is often essential for eradicating the cancer and its symptoms, but little can be done to prevent a tumour from returning further down the line.
Emma Fox, from Caernarfon, Gwynedd, Wales, was just 35 years old when a seizure struck her out of the blue nearly 20 years after she was first diagnosed with a brain tumour.
The mother-of-four explained: “I was playing a computer game with my eldest when I had my seizure.
“He’d witnessed three happen when he was only three and remembered exactly what to do as he had had to grow up with it. His courage and ability to deal with something like this make me feel proud.”
She added: “Although I have been told it’s unlikely my children will inherit the disease through my genes, I want to do all I can to stop anyone from going through what I have been through.”
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The mum-of-four was just 17 when she was first diagnosed with a brain tumour known as oligodendroglioma.
Emma had suffered from seizures from the early age of 10 months before developing migraines from the age of five, which carried on into her adulthood.
Emma said: “I felt like I was being fobbed off by the GP and like no one believed me.
“It wasn’t until I blacked out from a seizure on the bus home from school that I had an MRI scan and found out I had a mass on my brain.
“In my 20s I was diagnosed with epilepsy, which I now know was caused by my brain tumour.”
Shortly after undergoing surgery to remove her brain tumour in 2005, Emma was given the all-clear.
Treatment for brain tumours is often determined by the type of tumour, but surgery is often required in a great number of cases.
Once removed, there is still a chance of the brain tumour returning, with approximately 95 percent of recurrences happening in the same spot.
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“If your brain tumour comes back after treatment and starts to grow again, you are likely to have similar symptoms to when you were diagnosed,” explains Cancer Research UK.
What is Oligodendroglioma?
Oligodendroglioma is a rare type of brain tumour that begins in the brain or spinal cord.
They primarily develop in the glial cells known as oligodendrocytes, which are cells that may produce the protective sheaths on the nerves known as myelin.
“Myelin helps signals (impulses) to travel along the nerves more quickly,” explains Cancer Research UK.
Northwestern explains that epilepsy related to brain tumours tends to be caused by the excessive firing of neutrons in and around the tumour.
This can occur with any type of brain tumour whether they are cancerous or not, but they are more common with benign tumours.
Jessica W. Templer, MD, a neurologist specialising in epilepsy at Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive Epilepsy Centre, said: “Patients may not be aware that seizures are a consequence of the brain tumour.
“The seizures caused by brain tumours are complex and different for each patient depending on the types and location of the tumour.”