Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Brain Tumours - What it is

​A brain tumour is an abnormal growth of cells inside the skull.

Primary brain tumours grow from the cells or blood vessels in the brain, nerves that emerge from the brain or the membranes covering the brain. They can either be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Benign tumours grow slowly and do not spread to other areas of the body. However, they can still result in severe dysfunction by exerting harmful pressure on adjacent parts of the brain.

Malignant tumours grow rapidly and invade healthy cells in the brain. They tend to spread to adjacent structures and to the spinal column through cerebrospinal fluid.

Secondary brain tumours, also known as metastatic brain tumours, are mostly malignant. They result from cancer
cells that have spread from another part of the body. For example, breast, lung and colon cancers may spread to
the brain via the bloodstream.

Both primary and secondary brain tumours affect brain function and the nervous system. If left unchecked, they
can cause severe impairment or death.

Patients with symptoms of a possible brain tumour should consult a doctor early for diagnosis and treatment.

Brain Tumours - Symptoms

​Depending on the type of brain tumour, symptoms may vary and present gradually.

Common symptoms include:

  • Headaches that recur and get worse, especially in the morning
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures or fits
  • Unexplained drowsiness
  • Double vision, blurring or trouble seeing clearly
  • Increasing difficulty with speech and hearing
  • Growing weakness in the limbs
  • Problems with hearing, balance and coordination
  • Marked changes in memory, concentration or alertness

As some of these symptoms may be present in other conditions, consult a doctor to determine your medical condition.

Brain Tumours - How to prevent?

Brain Tumours - Causes and Risk Factors

​The cause of brain tumours is unknown. There is no clear evidence that injury, chemical exposure, viral infection, mobile phone use, environmental factors or mental stress can cause brain tumours.

Brain tumours may occur at any age. In general, tumours that occur in childhood are different from those diagnosed in adults.

Brain Tumours - Diagnosis

​The doctor will take history from the patient and perform a physical examination.

Imaging tests such as the Computed Tomography (CT) scan and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) may be done.

At times, special tests like a Cerebral Angiogram (x-rays of the blood vessels in the brain), Functional MRI scans and
an MRI Tractography may be needed.

These tests help to pinpoint the tumour’s size and site, and how close it is to the parts of the brain that controls key functions like speech. The test results will help the neurosurgeon to plan for removal of the tumour.

Brain Tumours - Treatments

​Treatment options depend on the type of tumour, size, location and the patient’s general health. Therapy may also be given to reduce the risk of the tumour coming back.

Treatment options include:

In most cases, special techniques and instruments are used to remove as much tumour as possible with the least harm to the brain. The tumour can be entirely or partially removed, depending on its size, location and the risks involved.

A computerised navigation system is used to aid the neurosurgeon to localise the tumour and navigate
critical areas of the brain during surgery.

One procedure is the awake craniotomy, performed while the patient is conscious. It reduces the risk of neurological damage for tumours located in critical brain regions.

The risks of surgery may include infection, bleeding, seizures, paralysis and coma.

Radiation therapy
High-energy beams such as x-rays are used to destroy the tumour.

Radiation therapy can be external (conventional radiation) or internal (brachytherapy). For primary cancerous brain tumours that cannot be completely removed, surgery may be followed by external beam radiation over 2 to 6 weeks to destroy the remaining tumour cells.

Multiple precision radiation beams are focused on a small area of the tumour to shrink it or stop it from growing. Radiosurgery is non-invasive and painless, and usually done as an outpatient procedure.

Drugs are administered in pill form or intravenously to destroy tumour cells.

Targeted drug therapy
Specic abnormalities within the tumour cells are destroyed by drugs to prevent cancer cells from dividing.
The treatments for brain tumours and brain cancer can be used on their own or in combination. In some cases, treatment may not be required. The tumour may simply be left alone and closely monitored.

Brain tumour treatment involves a multidisciplinary team of specialists, including neurosurgeons, neurologists, neuroradiologist, neuropathologists, oncologists, nurse clinicians and allied health professionals (therapists, social workers, psychologists, dieticians).

Side Effects of Treatment

​Side effects can range from fatigue, headaches and scalp irritation for radiation therapy. Chemotherapy patients
may experience nausea and hair loss, while those undergoing radiosurgery may have headaches and nausea.

Surgery for a tumour that is close to a nerve, or located in a critical or sensitive area of the brain may affect body functions such as sight, speech and movement.

Brain Tumours - Preparing for surgery

Brain Tumours - Post-surgery care

Brain Tumours - Other Information

Rehabilitation and Support for Brain Tumour
Recovery depends on the brain’s ability to heal from damage caused by the tumour. Therapists such as physiotherapist, occupational therapist and speech therapist to support rehabilitation. If there is persistent disability, the patient may be sent to a community hospital for further neuro-rehabilitation.

During rehabilitation, the patient and family should maintain a positive attitude, set realistic goals and work steadily to accomplish each goal.

Brain Tumour Society Singapore
The Brain Tumour Society Singapore (BTSS) is a community of brain tumour patients, caregivers and survivors. The BTSS provides community support and resources such as befrienders, financial assistance and public education. Started by brain cancer survivors, BTSS meets once a month so that members can share experiences and advice on how to cope with the disease.

Download the Brain Tumours brochure.



脑肿瘤是颅内细胞的异常生长导致的。原发性脑肿瘤由大脑细胞、大脑血管、大脑神经或脑膜病变生长而成。肿瘤既可能是良性的 (非癌),也可能是恶性的 (癌变)。





  • 头痛反复,不断加剧 ,尤其是在早晨
  • 恶心和呕吐
  • 惊风
  • 不明原因的嗜睡
  • 复视、视力模糊或难以正确视物
  • 说话和听力难度增大
  • 肢体无力
  • 平衡和协调出现问题
  • 记忆力、注意力或警觉性显著变化



医生将询问病人的病史,并记录其症状。可能要进行影像检查,如断层扫描 (Computed Tomography) 和磁共振成像 (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)。有时候,可能需要进行特殊检查,如脑血管造影 (脑血管的X光检查)、功能性磁共振扫描(Functional MRI),以及纤维束磁共振 (MRI Tractography) 成像。

这些检查有助于查明肿瘤的大小和位置,特别是了解其与控制身体关键功能 (如说话) 的大脑部位距离有多近。检查结果将帮助脑神经外科医生制定计划切除肿瘤。


  • 手术


  • 放射治疗

高能光束 (如X光) 被用于摧毁肿瘤。放射治疗可以是外部放射 (常规放射) ,也可以是内部放射 (短距离放射治疗) 。对于无法完全切除的原发性脑肿瘤,手术后可能会进行2至6周的外部光束放疗以摧毁剩余的肿瘤细胞。

  • 放射外科


  • 化疗


  • 靶向药物治疗




新加坡脑瘤协会 (Brain Tumour Society (Singapore) (BTSS))是一个由脑肿瘤患者、看护者和幸存者组成的社群。BTSS提供社区支持和各类资源,如扶持者、财政援助和公共教育。BTSS由脑癌幸存者创立,每月举行一次会议,成员们能够分享如何应对这种疾病的经验和建议。



The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

Discover articles,videos, and guides afrom Singhealth's resources across the web. These information are collated, making healthy living much easier for everyone.