Brain tumours and epilepsy

Brain tumours and epilepsy

During National Epilepsy Week, our Director of Research, Policy and Innovation Dr Karen Noble highlights the connection between brain tumours and epilepsy.

Many brain tumour patients experience epileptic seizures and know the disruption these can cause. Seizures are common in patients with brain tumours and epilepsy can significantly impact patient quality of life.

Of patients with brain tumours, the frequency of epilepsy is 30% or more depending on tumour type. For 30-50% of patients with brain tumours, an epileptic seizure is the presenting clinical sign of a tumour; 10-30% will go on to experience seizures.

In patients with a brain tumour, seizures are the onset symptom in 20-40% of patients, while a further 20-45% of patients will present them during the course of the disease.

Among all tumour types, seizures are most common with glioneuronal tumours (70-80%), particularly in patients with frontotemporal or insular lesions. Seizures are also common in individuals with glioma, with the highest rates of epilepsy (60-75%) observed in patients with low-grade gliomas located in superficial cortical or insular regions. Approximately 20-50% of patients with meningioma and 20-35% of those with brain metastases also suffer from seizures.

After tumour resection, approximately 60-90% are rendered seizure-free, with most favourable seizure outcomes seen in individuals with glioneuronal tumours. Gross total resection, earlier surgical therapy, and a lack of generalized seizures are common predictors of a favourable seizure outcome.

The powerful image we’ve used today is of Roux Owen, who now lives with epilepsy as a result of a brain tumour. Read more about the impact of epilepsy on his family on our blog: A brain tumour left my child with epilepsy.