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Communication difficulties

Communication difficulties can be caused when areas of the brain responsible for communication are affected by a brain tumour or its treatment.

The ability to communicate is something we often take for granted. When communication difficulties occur, they can make us feel frustrated, angry, embarrassed and isolated. Carers, family and friends, too, can find it confusing and frustrating, often reporting feeling helpless or even guilty.

It is important to realise that not everyone with a brain tumour will experience communication difficulties, or they may be so mild that they do not greatly affect daily life.

How do brain tumours affect communication?

Whether and how a brain tumour affects your communication skills will depend largely on where it is in the brain. Each section or lobe of the brain is responsible for different functions, some of which are involved in communication.

For example, the frontal lobe is involved in language production and the temporal lobe is involved in understanding language. As a result, if your tumour is in one of these lobes, pressure from the tumour itself, swelling around it or treatment directed at that area may have an effect on your communication skills.

The brain is also divided into two hemispheres - left and right. The side on which your tumour is located, as well as the lobe, can affect the type and likelihood of communication effects. If your tumour is located in the left hemisphere, you are more likely to experience language and speech difficulties, as this is where the language areas are generally found. (It is important to note that for some people, the language areas are found in the right hemisphere.)

Brain tumour surgery can also cause communication difficulties, if the area of the brain operated on is involved in communication. These effects may be temporary and reduce with recover, but some effects may be more permanent if that area is removed or damaged.

What communication difficulties might someone with a brain tumour experience?

There is a range of different communication difficulties that you may experience:

There are a number of strategies you can use to help cope with communication difficulties.

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