After being treated for a benign (non-cancerous) brain tumour, you may need additional care to monitor and treat any further problems.
Non-cancerous brain tumours can sometimes grow back after treatment, so you'll have regular follow-up appointments to check for signs of this.
Your appointments may include a discussion of any new symptoms you experience, a physical examination, and, occasionally, a brain scan.
It's likely you'll have follow-up appointments at least every few months to start with, but they'll probably be needed less frequently if no problems develop.
Side effects of treatment
Some people who have had a brain tumour can develop side effects of treatment months or years later, such as:
- problems with thinking, memory, language or judgement
- hearing loss
- migraine attacks
- a tumour developing somewhere else
- numbness, pain, weakness or loss of vision resulting from nerve damage (but these complications are rare)
- a stroke (this is rare)
If you or someone you care for has any worrying symptoms that develop after brain tumour treatment, see your doctor.
If you think it’s a stroke, dial 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.
Problems caused by a brain tumour don't always resolve as soon as the tumour is removed or treated.
For example, some people have persistent weakness, epileptic fits (seizures), difficulty walking, and speech problems.
Extra support may be needed to help you overcome or adapt to any problems you have.
This may include therapies such as:
- physiotherapy to help with any movement problems you have
- occupational therapy to identify any problems you're having with daily activities, and arrange for any equipment or alterations to your home that may help
- speech and language therapy to help you with communication or swallowing problems
Some people may also need to continue taking medication for seizures for a few months or more after their tumour has been treated or removed.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has made recommendations about the standards of care people with brain tumours should receive.
See the NICE guidance about improving outcomes for people with brain and other central nervous system tumours.
Driving and travelling
You may not be allowed to drive for a while after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.
How long you'll be unable to drive will depend on factors such as:
- whether you have had epileptic fits (seizures)
- the type of brain tumour you have
- where it is in your brain
- what symptoms you have
- what type of surgery you have had
If you're unsure whether or not you should be driving, don't until you have had clarification from the DVLA, your GP or specialist.
Driving against medical advice is both dangerous and against the law.
If you need to give up your driving licence, the DVLA will speak to your GP or specialist to determine when you can drive again.
With up-to-date scans and advice from your medical team, you may be allowed to drive after an agreed period.
This is usually after you have successfully completed medical tests to determine your ability to control a vehicle, and when the risk of having seizures is low.
The Cancer Research UK website has more information about brain tumours and driving.
Flying is usually possible when you have recovered from surgery, but you should let your travel insurance company know about your condition.
If you have had radiotherapy, it's important to follow a healthy lifestyle to lower your risk of stroke.
But note the following advice on sports and activities.
Sports and activities
After being treated for a brain tumour, you might be advised to permanently avoid contact sports, such as rugby and boxing.
You can start other activities again, with the agreement of your doctor, once you have recovered.
Swimming unsupervised isn't recommended for about a year after treatment because there's a risk you could have a seizure while in the water.
Sex and pregnancy
It's safe to have sex after treatment for a non-cancerous brain tumour.
Women may be advised to avoid becoming pregnant for 6 months or more after treatment.
If you're planning to become pregnant, you should discuss this with your medical team.
Going back to work
Tiredness is a common symptom after receiving treatment for a brain tumour. This often restricts your return to work.
Although you may want to return to work and normal life as soon as possible, it's probably a good idea to work part-time to begin with and only go back full-time when you feel ready.
If you have had seizures, you shouldn't work with machinery or at heights.
Help and support
A brain tumour is often life changing. You may feel angry, frightened and emotionally drained.
If you feel it'll help, your doctor or specialist may be able to refer you to a social worker or counsellor for help with the practical and emotional aspects of your diagnosis.