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Getting better after treatment for brain tumours

Having treatment for a brain tumour is often life changing. Some people make a full recovery and are able to go back to work. How long it takes for you to recover depends on your individual situation. Everyone takes a different amount of time to recover. 

Unfortunately, some people aren't able to get better and need care and support for the rest of their lives. 

Problems you might have after treatment

You might have problems for some time after you finish treatment for a brain tumour. The problems you might have include: 

  • weakness on one side of your body
  • difficulty walking or moving
  • difficulty with speech or understanding
  • seizures (fits)
  • severe tiredness (fatigue)
  • problems with your vision and hearing
  • personality changes
  • memory problems

The problems you have depend on where in your brain the tumour was. In time, another area of your brain can learn to take over some of the functions that were affected by your tumour, or its treatment. You may or may not get completely back to how you were before your brain tumour. But help is available for you. 

Who can help

There are various healthcare professionals who can help you recover from a brain tumour. This might include:

  • a physiotherapist to help you with moving  
  • an occupational therapist to see what help you need with everyday activities such as dressing
  • a speech and language therapist to help with speech and swallowing
  • a social worker who can arrange for you to have help with shopping and cleaning
  • dietitians to help with your diet
  • a GP practice nurse (district nurse) who can help with practical things such as wound care
  • a pharmacist who can help with your medicines and dosette boxes

Your doctor or specialist nurse may be able to refer you to these services. Don't be afraid to ask for this if it is not arranged automatically.  

Going back to work

Some people make a full recovery from their brain tumour. Others will have some long term side effects. It isn't possible to tell beforehand how things will work out. 

Whether you get completely back to normal and how soon depends on:

  • the type of tumour you have
  • how big the tumour is and where it is
  • the treatment you had
  • your particular job 

Some people have difficulty concentrating or remembering details after having treatment for a brain tumour. You might not be able to go back to the same level you were before your diagnosis if you had a job where your mental skills and abilities were very important. This can be very difficult to accept and adjust to. 

You might not be able to go back to your job straight away if you operate heavy machinery. You should talk to your occupational health department if you have one. If not, talk to your manager. 

If necessary, some employers can arrange for you to take on another role until you are better. Ask about this possibility if it is not offered. You might be able to go back to work part time. Then you can go back to your regular hours once you have got your strength back.  

It might be helpful to contact a benefits advisor at your local hospital if you can't go back to the job you did before. Or contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Information and help