Brain tumours can affect a variety of brain functions, which can have an impact on your quality of life.
The physical and emotional impact of diagnosis, treatment and lifestyle changes can affect mood and general character.
If you have, or have had, a brain tumour, you may experience changes to aspects of your personality.
- Personality changes may include:
- Irritability or aggression
- Disinhibition – loss of inhibitions or restraints and behaving in socially or culturally unacceptable ways (e.g. swearing or displaying inappropriate sexual behaviour)
- Apathy (lack of interest and motivation)
- Mood swings
- Difficulty planning and organising
Possible reasons behind personality changes
Location of the tumour – Personality changes are most common in people when the tumour is located in their frontal lobe, which controls personality, behaviour and emotions, problem solving and long-term memory. Personality changes can also be caused by a tumour in the pituitary gland which controls hormone levels.
Swelling in the brain can result from treatments including surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Personality changes that have occurred as a direct or indirect result of these treatments usually pass gradually as you recover.
The impact of the diagnosis and treatment for most people is devastating. The emotional impact of the diagnosis, undergoing treatment, lifestyle changes and becoming more dependent on others, can affect mood and general character.
Memory involves many different parts of the brain. Many brain tumours therefore can cause memory difficulties.
It is difficult to predict exactly, but it will depend on:
- what sort of tumour you have (tumour type)
- where your tumour is in the brain (location)
- what treatment you have.
A brain tumour can cause difficulties with understanding language, expressing language or both. Carers, family & friends can feel lonely and isolated too.
Dysphasia is the most common communication difficulty experienced by people with brain tumours.
There is a range of different communication difficulties that you may experience:
- Language impairment (also known as ‘dysphasia’ or sometimes ‘aphasia’. This includes difficulties understanding language and producing language, as well as with reading and writing. It is common for several of these aspects to be affected, and the severity of the dysphasia can progress as the tumour grows.
- Speech difficulties
- Cognitive communication difficulties. Problems with cognitive functions, such as memory, attention, social cognition, can lead to communication difficulties due to forgetting words, losing the thread of a conversation, or not knowing when to talk and when to listen during a conversation.
Fatigue is the most common side-effect of cancer treatment affecting about 70% – 90% of cancer patients. Many people say that it is the most disruptive side-effect they experience.
Some common symptoms of this condition also include oversleeping, aches in muscles, feeling exhausted after small tasks, loss of interest in things you enjoy, as well as feeling negative, anxious or depressed.
Many people living with a brain tumour experience depression and emotional distress at some point during their illness. Depression may also affect family, friends and carers.
Brain tumours and their treatments can affect thinking skills, which may make some aspects of daily life difficult.
The following is a list of the most common cognitive effects of brain tumours;
- Being easily distracted
- Finding it difficult to focus on a task and to finish it
- Losing the thread of conversations
- Not being able to concentrate on more than one thing
Around 60% of brain tumour patients will experience a seizure at least once during the course of their illness. Epileptic seizures are the most common first symptom that leads to a brain tumour diagnosis in adults. Epilepsy is more likely in low grade tumours.