Brain tumour signs and symptoms: The Wanted's Tom Parker aims to raise awareness following diagnosis

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·6-min read
Tom Parker has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour, pictured in May 2013. (Getty Images)
Tom Parker has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour, pictured in May 2013. (Getty Images)

The Wanted’s Tom Parker has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.

The boy band singer, 32, said he was “still in shock” after being told six weeks ago that he had a type of tumour called a stage 4 glioblastoma

He received the diagnosis shortly before he is due to become a dad for the second time.

“There’s no easy way to say this but I’ve sadly been diagnosed with a Brain Tumour and I’m already undergoing treatment,” he wrote on Instagram, alongside a picture of himself and his wife, Kelsey Hardwick and their 16-month-old daughter, Aurelia.

Parker went on to say he hopes to remain positive, despite being told the cancer diagnosis is terminal.

“We are all absolutely devastated but we are gonna fight this all the way,” his post continues. “We don’t want your sadness, we just want love and positivity and together we will raise awareness of this terrible disease and look for all available treatment options.

“It’s gonna be a tough battle but with everyone’s love and support we are going to beat this.”

Read more: Brain cancer patient, 32, given six weeks to live ‘still fighting’ two years later

In an interview with OK! magazine, Parker revealed he suffered a seizure in July and was put on a waiting list for an MRI scan.

Six weeks later he had another, more serious seizure during a family trip to Norwich and was rushed to hospital.

After three days of tests, he was given the diagnosis that he was suffering from grade four glioblastoma.

What are the symptoms of a brain tumour?

The symptoms of a brain tumour will depend upon which part of the brain is affected, according to Brain Tumour Research.

The most common symptoms are caused by an increase in pressure in the skull caused by the growth of a tumour in the brain.

Other common symptoms, which may initially come and go, can include one or more of the following:

  • Headaches

  • Eye and vision-related problems (such as squinting and double-vision)

  • Continuing nausea, vomiting

  • Extreme or sudden drowsiness

  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or hearing loss

  • Unexplained twitches of the face or limbs

  • Seizures (fits or faints)

  • Appearing to be lost in a deep daydream for a short while

  • Confusion

  • Loss of balance

  • Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, especially if progressive and leading to paralysis

  • Numbness or weakness in a part of the face, so that the muscles drop slightly

  • Numbness or weakness on one side of the body, resulting in stumbling or lack of co-ordination

  • Changes in personality or behaviour

  • Impaired memory or mental ability, which may be very subtle to begin with

  • Changes in senses, including smell

  • Problems with speech, writing or drawing

  • Loss of concentration or difficulty in concentrating

  • Changes in sleep patterns

Read more: Sarah Harding is undergoing treatment for breast cancer

“Depending on which part of the brain the tumour is affecting, the symptoms can vary,” Dr Daniel Cichi from Doctor 4 U adds. “If, for instance, a tumour is located at the frontal lobes this may cause personality and behavioural changes.

“Symptoms can vary greatly amongst patients, but in general, any noticeable changes to your behaviour, mobility, vision, or speech should be checked out by your doctor.”

Dr Cichi says that in particular, if you’re experiencing frequent and severe headaches, loss of sensation or movement in your limbs that happens gradually, or progressive weakness on one side of the body, as well as seizures or speech and vision problems, these could indicate a brain tumour but, he cautions, it’s not always the case.

“Nausea, vomiting, drowsiness and headaches may be the more subtle signs of a brain tumour as many people put these symptoms down to tiredness, working too hard, or other illnesses,” he adds.

“But anyone who is experiencing headaches which are out of the ordinary for them should speak to their GP as soon as possible.”

Watch: Man given weeks to live sees his model railway project completed

It’s worth noting that not all brain tumours are cancerous and some are less complicated than others, depending on where the tumour is located in the brain.

“Non-cancerous (benign) tumours can often be removed successfully with surgery and they very rarely grow back,” Dr Cichi explains.

“In some cases, a person may be able to live with their benign tumour for quite some time before they have surgery because they are slow-growing compared to cancerous tumours which grow at a much faster rate.”

Cancerous brain tumours can also be treated with surgery, as well as radiotherapy and chemotherapy if not all of the tumour could be removed in surgery.

“Different types of speech and physical therapy may be given if the tumour has affected motor skills, vision, and speech,” Dr Cichi adds.

Read more: Woman puts tiredness down to being a busy mum but it was actually a brain tumour

What causes brain tumours?

Often, the cause of a brain tumour is unknown, but according to Dr Cichi brain tumours are more likely to develop in old age.

“Genetics can also play a part, and we know that exposure to radiation can increase the risk of developing some types of brain tumours,” he adds.

Tom is in the boy band The Wanted, pictured with his bandmates in June 2013. (Getty Images)
Tom Parker is in the boy band The Wanted, pictured here (second from right) with his bandmates in June 2013. (Getty Images)

What is glioblastoma?

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the type of brain tumour Tom Parker has been diagnosed with, is the most common type of brain tumour that starts in the brain.

According to The Brain Tumour Charity it is the most aggressive form of adult brain tumour and is often resistant to treatment

It is believed that the variety of cells in a glioblastoma is one of the reasons it is so hard to treat, because current drugs are not able to effectively target all the cell types in the tumour.

As with most brain tumours, the cause of glioblastoma is not known.

Read more: Mum urges parents to trust their instincts after son's balance issues turns out to be a sign of cancer

Brain Tumour Research says the first option for the treatment of GBM, if the tumour is operable, is surgery, usually followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

“The surgical operation to remove a GBM is a delicate balancing act between removing as much of the tumour as possible and protecting the function of the healthy brain,” said a spokesperson for Brain Tumour Research.

“So the location of the brain tumour is very important with regard to both the potential impact of surgery and the symptoms that the patient will experience (because different areas of the brain control different mental and physical processes).”

How much of a glioblastoma a neurosurgeon can remove is limited because GBMs are “diffuse”, meaning that tumour cells invade healthy areas of the brain adjacent to the tumour.

Unfortunately the diffuse nature of GBM means some tumour cells will almost always be left behind and hence will continue to grow.

For this reason, radiotherapy and chemotherapy are the next stages of treatment for a GBM. Usually, people are offered the chemotherapy drug Temozolomide (TMZ) alongside radiotherapy, and then further doses of Temozolomide afterwards.

Watch: Violinist plays during her own brain surgery

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