Brain Tumor Awareness Month – Why Women Experience a Greater Delay in Brain Tumor Diagnosis

March is brain tumor awareness month and there’s more urgency now than ever before to speed up the process of diagnosing a tumor and finding methods to treat them. When it comes to brain tumors, the presentation of symptoms may happen months or years before an actual diagnosis is found, and unfortunately, that statistic is even more true in women than it is men.

The Brain Tumor Charity research shows that females are far more likely to have delays in their diagnosis than males. This is because of the way symptoms of brain tumors present. Often, they mirror symptoms of other diseases like mental illnesses or hormone imbalances that are primarily found in women. In fact, part of their research is almost frightening when put into perspective.

“Many women have told us that symptoms were put down to stress or the ubiquitous ‘women’s problems’ by GP’s. Particularly disturbing was the story of one woman whose seizures were misdiagnosed as panic attacks.”

Rebecca Short posted an article that poses an interesting question. Are women being misdiagnosed because doctors frequently write off their health problems as mental illness instead of physical ailments?

Statistics would say yes. While the aforementioned information alone is troubling, added statistics prove exactly how hard it is for women to be diagnosed and what harm a misdiagnosis can do. In fact, women with brain tumors are at a greater risk to be diagnosed after an emergency admission to a hospital than without one. Studies show that, with this type of diagnosis, only 28% of people are still alive after a year. If a diagnosis is made through an ‘urgent’ referral to a GP, the odds of survival go up 10%. That’s a world of difference, it could make all the difference when it comes to life after a tumor.

In addition to those facts, this one takes the cake.

115% more women died of brain tumors than cervical cancer in 2015. 115% more. 

These odds have to change if the quality of life, and longevity, are going to be enhanced by women. While it is true that brain tumors are rare, it doesn’t mean that they’re unheard of. While it’s a doctor’s job to do necessary tests and make a diagnosis, it’s important for patients to push for more if you feel like it’s necessary, or to ask for further testing if you aren’t getting better.

Women shouldn’t be misdiagnosed with men just because they’re labeled as more likely to have mental illness or imbalances, women shouldn’t be at risk for higher death rates and lower quality of life just because their symptoms resemble an anxiety disorder.

For more information, please visit The Brain Tumor Charity’s website. You’ll find ways to get involved, statistics, and information that keeps you up to date with symptoms, research, and methods of treatment.


Written by Ashley

Writer, coffee drinker, mother.