Teenage girl’s ‘terrible headaches’ was a brain tumour – ‘I was in a state of shock’

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Fashion graduate Samantha Griffiths, now 24, was in her first year of university when she started experiencing symptoms of her brain tumour. “My gran had sadly passed away at the start of the year, so I thought maybe I had become depressed,” she explained. “It made sense at the time because I was no longer enjoying my uni work, even though I’d always wanted to study fashion, so I knew something wasn’t right.” When Samantha visited her GP, the doctor concurred that depression might be a possibility.

A brain tumour

The NHS explained that a brain tumour “is a growth of cells in the brain that multiplies in an abnormal, uncontrollable way”.

Low-grade tumours – labelled grade one or two – grow very slowly, and are non-cancerous (benign) brain tumours, just like Samantha’s.

Meanwhile, high-grade tumours (grade three or four) grow more quickly and are considered cancerous.

Common symptoms of either type of brain tumour include:

  • Headaches
  • Seizures (fits)
  • Persistently feeling sick (nausea), being sick (vomiting) and drowsiness
  • Mental or behavioural changes, such as memory problems or changes in personality
  • Progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
  • Vision or speech problems.

The main risk factors include age, radiation exposure, family history and genetics.

To elaborate, the risk of a brain tumour increases with age, especially for those over the age of 85.

Exposure to radiation can also be a risk factor, which may be more common for people who’ve had radiotherapy, CT scans, or X-rays of the head.

Genetic conditions, such as tuberous sclerosis, neurofibromatosis type 1, neurofibromatosis type 2, and Turner syndrome could also increase your risk.

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