Read about what brain tumour symptoms to expect and the best way of managing them.

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Understanding Brain Tumours booklet 2022

Download Section Six of our brain tumour booklet: Managing brain tumour symptoms

  • Brain tumours affect the tissue in and around the brain and causes
    symptoms like nausea, headaches, and seizures.
  • Brain tumours can change the way you think and your memory, mood,
    and personality.
  • Talk to your doctor or nurse about any symptoms you may be
    experiencing. As well as providing cancer treatments, your doctor may
    be able to refer you to other services to help you manage your cancer

  • Papā ai te puku roro ki te kiko kei roto i te roro, e karapoti ana hoki i te
    roro me tana whakaputa tohumate pērā ki te hiaruaki, ānini māhunga,
    me ngā rehu ohotata.
  • Ka rerekē katoa ō whakaaro, tō pūmahara, tō kaingākau, tō tuakiri nā te
    puku roro.
  • Kōrero ki tō rata, ki tō tapuhi rānei mō ngā tohumate tērā pea kei te
    rongo koe. I tua atu i tana kaha ki te hoatu maimoatanga matepukupuku,
    tērā pea ka āhei tō rata ki te tuku i a koe ki ētahi atu ratonga ki te
    āwhina i a koe ki te whakahaere i ō tohumate matepukupuku.

Ways of managing symptoms of a brain tumour

Talk to your doctor or nurse about any symptoms you may be experiencing. As well as cancer treatments, your doctor may be able to refer you to a palliative care service to help you manage your brain tumour symptoms.

Fatigue (no energy)

Fatigue can be described in many ways, including feeling exhausted, extremely tired, sleepy, drowsy, or finding it difficult to concentrate.

  • Let people help you
  • Take time off work or work from home
  • Do light exercise
  • Try to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet

Nausea (feeling sick)

If you have a brain tumour you may feel sick at some point.

This can be caused by many things, including the cancer itself and cancer treatments.

Find out more about nausea


Not everyone with a brain tumour has headaches. If you do have headaches, you may not be in pain all the time and they can usually be well managed.

There is a range of prescription medications and complementary therapies, such as relaxation techniques, that can help with headaches due to a brain tumour.


Seizures, also called fits or convulsions, are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

There are two main types of seizure:

  • Focal seizures - these are also called partial seizures and affect one part of the body, such as an arm or a leg. 
  • Generalised seizures - these seizures usually affect the whole body and are known as tonic-clonic seizures.

If you have a seizure, talk to your treatment team about ways to manage it.

Trouble sleeping

Some people with brain tumours have trouble sleeping or have difficulties falling asleep, which can affect how well they feel during the day.

If you are taking steroid medication or have headaches or nausea, this may also affect your sleep.

Find out more about sleep problems

Changes in thinking, memory, mood or personality

You, or those close to you, may notice changes in your memory or your personality.

Some people describe feeling very emotional or upset, while others find it hard to think clearly, concentrate, or remember things. Sometimes people behave in ways that seem out of character. These changes do not happen for everyone.

Find out more about managing change with a brain tumour

Weight gain

Some people with brain tumours put on weight due to steroid medication, which can cause increased appetite and fluid retention.

Talk to your treatment team about safe ways to lose weight. Avoid diets or medications promising rapid weight loss. You are more likely to keep weight off if you lose it slowly and steadily.

Find out more about managing your weight

Last updated: May 29, 2023