Brain cancer

The brain controls our thoughts, our emotions and our bodily functions, so being diagnosed with brain cancer can be worrying. The London Clinic can provide the latest treatments, provided by world-leading experts, and a comfortable, calm environment in which to recover.

What is brain cancer?

Cancer develops when cells in the brain start to divide and grow in an abnormal and uncontrolled way, forming a tumour.

Benign or non-cancerous tumours are usually slow growing, less likely to come back if removed and won’t disseminate to other parts of the body.

Malignant or cancerous tumours tend to grow quickly and may spread within the brain, down the spine and elsewhere in the body.

There are around 130 different types of primary brain tumours. They are named according to where they are in the brain, or the types of cells from which they arise.

The cancers that experts at The London Clinic can treat include astrocytomas such as anaplastic astrocytoma, glioblastomas, ependymomas, chordomas, high grade and aggressive mixed gliomas, malignant oligodendrogliomas and medulloblastomas, which occur in young children.

Brain tumours can also develop when cancer spreads from another part of the body. These secondary tumours occur more frequently than any other type of brain cancer, and are most commonly found in people with advanced breast or lung cancers.

The primary brain cancers grow and spread at different rates and require different treatment strategies. Your team will customise a plan according to your individual needs

Who is at risk of brain cancer?

The cause of brain cancer is not fully understood. However, the chance of getting cancer is usually linked to age, genetic background and lifestyle.

Anyone could potentially develop brain cancer, but some factors may put people at increased risk:

  • Family history: a small number of tumours are linked to genetic conditions such as neurofibromatosis and tuberous sclerosis
  • Medical radiation
  • Previous cancers
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Obesity

What are the symptoms of brain cancer?

The symptoms of brain cancer will depend on its size and location within the brain. Many brain cancers are completely silent in the early stages, but symptoms can include:

  • Headaches: these may be worse in the morning and when coughing, sneezing or straining
  • Feeling nauseous or being sick
  • Seizures
  • Memory problems
  • Personality changes
  • Slurring or speech disturbance
  • Visual problems including blurring and blind spots

These symptoms can be triggered by a number of conditions, however, you should see your GP if you are unwell or have any concerns.

How is brain cancer diagnosed?

The London Clinic offers a range of tests to detect brain cancer in an efficient and comfortable environment.

High-tech imaging performed by specialist neuro-radiologists can help your consultant diagnose and stage your cancer, so that you can be offered the best treatment for your individual needs.

Following consultation and assessment in the out-patient clinic, your consultant will arrange tests to discover more about your condition in a timely manner. These can include:

MRI scan

The London Clinic has two MRI scanners offering a comprehensive range of MRI investigations. These can provide detailed images of the brain and the cancer.

PET-CT scan

PET scans can identify areas of active cancer within the brain and the CT scan can take a series of pictures to create a 3-dimensional image of the brain.

Brain angiography

An angiogram may be performed to show the blood vessels in your head and neck. A dye is injected and images taken to highlight the vessels and their relation to the cancer.  

How is brain cancer treated?

The right choice of treatment for your brain cancer depends on the size and type of tumour, its location in the brain and your age and general health. 

Your consultant may order some tests to gather more information. They will then discuss the options with you and develop a customised programme, tailored to your individual needs.


The facilities, equipment and neurosurgical expertise at The London Clinic mean that patients having brain surgery have access to the best and most appropriate treatments.

Your consultant neurosurgeon may be able to remove your cancer operatively. They may be assisted with the use of neuro-navigation.

These are computer-operated systems that superimpose 3D images of the patient’s brain obtained by CT scanning or MRI scanning, so that the neurosurgeon can navigate more accurately when removing a tumour.

This reduces the risk of damaging healthy brain tissue during the operation.


 High-energy, targeted X-ray radiation can be directed at the brain to destroy cancer cells. This can reduce the risk of recurrence after surgery.

The London Clinic has a dedicated radiotherapy suite with the latest image-guided, volumetric arc and intensity-modulated radiotherapy to increase the accuracy of treatment and reduce complications.


The CyberKnife uses highly focused beams of radiation to precisely target brain tumours that are deep within the brain tissue.

This enables our oncologists to treat tumours that are inoperable. CyberKnife radiosurgery is also useful for patients who are unwell and may be too weak to cope with brain surgery and a general anaesthetic.


Different combinations of chemotherapy can be given by mouth or intravenous injection. These prevent the cancer cells dividing and proliferating, helping to shrink the tumour and reduce the risk of spread.  

Steroid medication

Steroid medication may also be given to decrease brain swelling and ease symptoms of headache and sickness. The London Clinic offers outpatient chemotherapy in a comfortable, private and discreet location.


It can take time to recover from neurosurgery and some people may have ongoing problems such as fits, speech problems and walking difficulties.

Our highly-trained multidisciplinary team includes occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech therapists to help you regain strength and skills and adapt to any lasting disability.


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