Your doctor asks about your symptoms, including when they started and whether anything you do makes them better or worse. They will also do a physical examination and test your nervous system. A test of your nervous system is also called a neurological examination.
You might have a physical and a neurological examination done by:
- your GP
- a doctor in the A&E department
- a brain tumour specialist in the hospital
Getting ready for your test
There's no special preparation for these tests. You can eat, drink and take your medicines as normal.
Before your test
When you get to the examination room your doctor may ask you to change into a hospital gown. You can have someone with you (a chaperone) whilst you are being examined. Let your doctor know if you feel anxious or uncomfortable about having a physical or neurological examination.
During your test
Your doctor might:
- examine your breasts
- feel and listen to your tummy (abdomen)
- examine your skin
- listen to your chest
This is to make sure there is no obvious sign of a cancer somewhere else in your body. It is more common for an adult to have a cancer that has spread to the brain from somewhere else in the body than to have one that starts in the brain.
You can usually get dressed and go home straight after these tests.
Your doctor might:
- test your muscle strength by asking you to squeeze your doctor's hands or pushing against their hand with your feet
- find out if you have any numbness
- tap your knee with a rubber hammer to check your reflexes
- shine a light and look into the back of your eyes to see if there are any changes
- see how you follow commands and see how well you are reading or writing
- check your hearing
Having a physical examination and testing your nervous system is a very safe procedure. Your nurse will tell you who to contact if you have any problems after your test. Your doctors will make sure the benefits of having these tests outweigh any possible risks.
Getting your results
Your doctor can usually tell you straight away if they find any abnormal result.
Having tests to diagnose a brain tumour can be a worrying time. You can contact your specialist nurse if you’re finding it hard to cope. It can also help to talk to a close friend or relative about how you feel.
We have more information on tests, treatment and support if you have been diagnosed with a brain or spinal cord tumour.