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The Relationship between Headaches and Cancer

Every one of us suffers from a headache once in a while, but when you get a headache that won’t go away then you start to get worried as most severe headaches and cancer are related. But this is not always the case and some times the pain may be caused by something else.

The headaches resulting from cancer, especially a brain tumor, is due to the increase in the intracranial pressure on the brain. The skull is meant to hold a specific amount of fluid and mass and anything above that causes pressure to build up hurting the brain. This induces the headache.

While headaches and cancer do not necessarily appear together, most cancer patients have reported experiencing headaches. Here are some characteristics of cancer related headaches.

  • The headaches are a new phenomenon to you and are intense. A headache going above and beyond what you normally experience and continuing as such is an indicator that something is wrong. But if you have a history of headaches and migraines, then it is likely that is just your normal illness. This therefore makes it harder to use headaches as an indicator for cancer, especially in people suffering from migraines.
  • Headaches related to cancer are not usually responsive to medications. If you are taking over-the-counter medication and your headache is still persistent then you may have to get some tests done by a specialist.
  • Cancer headaches are triggered or worsened by walking, coughing, bending, sneezing and any sort of abrupt movement. If your headaches show such tendencies then it is best you see a doctor.
  • The headaches can be throbbing, dull or aching and initially may come and go but overtime they become permanent and severe, making it almost impossible to do anything. A headache that goes on for hours is not a good sign and you should have it checked out. The pain can get so severe that it can even wake one from sleep.
  • Another thing is that cancer related headaches are usually experienced in the morning almost as soon as one gets out of bed. It is not natural to have a headache first thing in the morning as the assumption is that you should be rested unless otherwise. So a headache early in the morning is a warning sign.

A headache on its own is not a sure sign of cancer more likely it is another problem. However, when in combination with seizures, disruption of hearing and vision, cognitive decline, weak limbs, nausea and vomiting then you need to see a specialist and have the necessary tests done.

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