Read about common tests (investigations) used to find out if your symptoms may be a brain tumour.

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Download Section Two of our brain tumour booklet: Diagnosing a brain tumour

  • If there is concern that your symptoms may be a brain tumour, further
    tests (investigations) will be done to check how the different parts of
    your brain and body are working.
  • The purpose of these tests is to find out whether you have a brain
    tumour and the type of brain tumour you have.
  • The results of any tests you have will help your treatment team to
    decide on the best treatment options for you.
  • Common tests include:
    • neurological examination
    • blood tests
    • imaging tests (scans)
    • lumbar puncture
    • biopsy
    • testing for gene changes.

  • Mehemea ka puta he māharahara tērā pea he puku roro kē ngā
    tohumate, ka whāia anō he whakamātautau ake (ngā tirotirohanga) ki te
    arowhai e pēhea ana te mahi o tēnā wāhi, o tēnā wāhi o tō roro, o te
    tinana hoki.
  • Ko te whāinga o ēnei whakamātautau, ko te tiro mēnā kua whai puku
    roro koe, me te tiro ki tōna momo.
  • Ka āwhina ngā whakamātautau ka whāia e koe, i tō rōpū maimoa ki te
    whakatau ko tēhea te kōwhiringa maimoatanga pai rawa mōu.
  • Ko te nuinga o ngā whakamātautau ka whakamahia ko ēnei:
    • arowhai ā-pūnaha iotōpū
    • whakamātautau toto
    • whakamātautau ata
    • wero tuaiwi
    • unuhanga
    • whakamātautau rerekētanga ira
Section 2

Diagnosing a brain tumour

If you have noticed any symptoms of a brain tumour, you will often see your GP or whānau doctor first.

It can be helpful to take a list of your symptoms, and how long you have had them, with you to your appointment. You may also be asked about your family history of cancer and any risk factors you may have.

If the doctor is concerned that your symptoms may be signs of a brain tumour, they will examine you to check how the different parts of your brain and body are working. This is called a neurological (body’s nervous system) examination.

The doctor may check for any signs of raised pressure around your brain by looking into your eyes.

The doctor will also test the following:

  • Your reflexes — usually by tapping your knee with a small rubber hammer
  • The strength of your arms and legs
  • Your balance and coordination, by watching how well you can walk
  • Sensation — such as your ability to feel light touch or pinpricks
  • Simple memory questions

You may be referred to a neurologist (a specialist brain doctor) or neurosurgeon (a specialist brain and spinal-cord surgeon) for further tests (investigations).

Common tests (investigations) for brain tumours

The purpose of these tests is to find out whether you have a brain tumour and the type of brain tumour you have. 

The results of any tests you have will help your treatment team to decide on the best treatment options for you.

You may have some, or all, of these tests:

  • Blood tests to check your general health and how well your body is working
  • CT, MRI and PET-CT scans used to build a detailed picture of your brain

  • Lumbar puncture to collect a sample of fluid from your spinal column

  • Surgical biopsy to remove some or all of the tissue

  • Genetic testing after a biopsy to identify genetic features found in the tumour's DNA to give your doctor more specific information about the type of tumour you have

The above information can be used to help guide the best course of treatment for you.

Find out more about brain tumour support

Last updated: September 1, 2022