Seizures are the most common first (onset) symptom that lead to a brain tumour diagnosis in adults. However, brain tumours are rare and seizures can occur for a number of reasons, so if you have a seizure, it does not necessarily mean you have a brain tumour. Sometimes seizures are a one-off.
All seizures should be checked out by your GP or A&E doctors as they could be due to a serious condition including a brain tumour.
When people hear the term seizure, they often think of convulsive seizures. This is where the person loses consciousness, their body goes stiff and they fall to the floor with their limbs jerking. However, this type of seizure (known as a tonic-clonic seizure) is rarely associated with brain tumours.
There are many other types of seizure. The type most commonly associated with brain tumours are called focal (or partial) seizures.
Focal seizures affect only one part of the brain and can affect your movement and/or your level of consciousness or awareness.
The symptoms you have will be different according to where the seizure starts in the brain.
The following are examples of what can happen – you may experience something different.
Symptoms of a focal seizure include:
A small part of one side of the brain is affected. You’ll remember the seizure afterwards, even if you can’t describe it. Symptoms include:
A larger part of one side of the brain is affected. Your consciousness is affected – you may be confused, unaware of what you’re doing, and unlikely to remember what happened afterwards. Symptoms include:
Some of these seizures may start as a focal aware seizure. They can last from around 15 seconds to 2-3 minutes. After this type of seizure, you may still feel confused, making it difficult to tell when the seizure has ended. This is called post-ictal confusion. You may also feel tired and need to rest.
All seizures should be checked out by your GP or, depending on the severity of the seizure, an A&E doctor, to find out the underlying cause.
The symptoms listed above are examples of the type of seizures normally associated with brain tumours. However, having these symptoms does not mean you have a brain tumour.
It is possible, though rare, for brain tumours to cause other types of seizure, such as the tonic-clonic (convulsive) type seizure.
Brain tumours are rare, however, if you're worried, if a symptom persists or if you have more than one of these symptoms then: