Brain tumour

'Brain tumour' is the umbrella term for various benign and malignant tumours inside the skull.


'Brain tumour' is the umbrella term for various benign and malignant tumours inside the skull. The causes aren't really known. The displacement of brain tissue causes various disorders of the nervous system. Headaches are an important early symptom. Seizures, personality changes or vomiting on an empty stomach can occur.



  • Depending on the location, size and speed of growth of the tumour
  • Symptoms caused by displacement of brain tissue and increase in intracranial pressure
  • The following symptoms aren't typical for all tumours


  • Headaches
    • Early and persistent symptom
  • Seizures (epileptic seizures)
  • Dizziness, nausea and vomiting
  • Signs of paralysis
    • A gradual increase is typical
    • Clumsiness or weakness when moving
    • Sensory disturbances (numbness, tingling)
  • Disturbance of balance, unsteady gait
  • Hearing problems, noise in the ears
  • Visual impairment
  • Speech disorders (anomia, slurred speech)
  • Psychological changes

Causes and treatment


  • Not really known
  • Brain metastases: spread from tumour in other organs
  • Genetic factors (often can’t be proven)
Benign tumours
  • Also potentially life-threatening
  • Meningiomas
    • Originate in meninges (membranes in the brain)
    • Important group representing around 25% of all brain tumours
    • Can sometimes change and become malignant
  • Neurinomas (originate in cranial nerves, often also in the spinal cord)
Malignant tumours
  • Astrocytoma, glioblastoma (originate in brain's connective and supporting tissues)
  • Brain metastases
    • Metastases of cancer tumours in other organs
    • Most common malignant tumours in skull

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Nerve function test (neurostatus)
  • Ophthalmoscopy (examination of optic nerve)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Examination of cerebrospinal fluid, if necessary
  • Removal of tissue sample (brain biopsy)
Possible therapies
  • Operation (whenever possible)
  • Radiation/post-operative radiation, if necessary
  • Chemotherapy (depending on the course o the disease and if an operation is impossible)
  • Benign brain tumours: good chance of complete recovery
  • Malignant brain tumours and brain mestases: sadly, chances of recovery are considerably smaller

What can I do myself?

  • Take note of physical warning signs (see below) and don't delay going to the doctor
  • Stop smoking

When to see a doctor?

  • Headaches
    • Frequent and recurring
    • Sudden and very severe (sign of a burst aneurysm)
    • Constantly getting stronger
  • Seizure
  • Visual impairment
  • Hearing problems
  • Balance disturbances and gait abnormalities
  • Sensory disturbances, signs of paralysis
  • Severe vomiting, vomiting on an empty stomach
  • Drop in performance, increasingly tired
  • Change in state of consciousness (e.g. disorientation, fainting)
  • Change in speech and personality

Further information

Swiss Cancer League (Schweizerische Krebsliga)

Selbsthilfe Schweiz (Self-Help Support Switzerland)


brain tumour, meningioma, glioblastoma, neurinoma

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.