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Brain Tumour Research


Brain Tumour Information

A brain tumour occurs when abnormal cells grow and form a mass or a lump. The tumour may be called benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), but both types can be serious and may need urgent treatment.

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body and is often called the body's command centre. It controls things you do voluntarily, such as speaking or making decisions, as well as those you do automatically, such as blood circulation and heart rate.

Every year an estimated 2000 malignant brain tumours are diagnosed in Australia whilst benign brain tumours are far more commonly diagnosed.

There are more than 40 types of primary brain tumours with the most common being Glioma, Astrocytoma, Glioblastoma, Oligodendroglioma, Ependymoma, Medulloblastoma, Meningioma, Pituitary tumour, Schwannoma and secondary cancer in the brain.


In some cases, a brain tumour grows slowly and symptoms develop gradually, so you may not be aware that anything is wrong at first. In other cases, symptoms appear suddenly. Brain tumour symptoms may be caused by increased pressure in the skull. Pressure can build up because the tumour itself is taking up too much space or because it is blocking the flow of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain.

Intracranial pressure can lead to symptoms such as:

  • headaches – often worse when you wake up
  • nausea and vomiting – often worse in the morning or after changing position (e.g. moving from sitting to standing)
  • confusion and irritability
  • blurred or double vision
  • seizures (fits) – can be obvious, involving a loss of consciousness, or more subtle, such as "zoning out"
  • weakness in parts of the body
  • drowsiness – a later symptom


The PA Research Foundation is proud to support brain tumour research at the PA Hospital Campus, in collaboration with the Gamma Knife Centre of Queensland, which is generously funded through the Bridge to Brisbane community fundraising event.

Participants in the Bridge to Brisbane collectively raise funds each year to support research which is conducted by Neurosurgeon Dr Sarah Olson, her colleague and Radiation Oncologist Dr Mark Pinkham and other collaborators based at the PAH Campus. Their goal is to best support current patients undergoing treatment and improve the outcomes for patients in the future. Brain cancer survival rates have barely increased in the last 30 years and it kills more people under 40 in Australia than any other cancer. Brain cancer also receives less than 5% of federal government cancer research funding which is why the support from the community is so vital in progressing new research to improve patient outcomes.

Practical research into supporting patients today
  • Investigation into physiological and psychological benefits of exercise during and after treatment in patients with gliomas
  • Innovation into how best to deliver neuropsychological supports using Telehealth (in collaboration with MSH Serta grant funding and Griffith University)
  • Innovation into how best to monitor brain tumour patients for issues between clinic reviews (in collaboration with ScreenIT programme)
  • Development of nurse-led caring for the carer programmes
Translational research for now and the future
  • Funding a brain tumour research nurse - key to facilitating collaboration with TRI and other researchers
  • Nanomedicine therapeutics in collaboration with Centre for Advanced Imaging, CAI and UQDI
  • Immunotherapy for glioblastoma in collaboration with UQDI
Seed funding is required to help progress the three promising trials in brain cancer and funds raised from the 2019 Bridge to Brisbane will help Dr Olson and her collaborators to achieve this.

Adam Gilchrist joins Team PARF

The PA Research Foundation is excited to announce that Australian Cricket Legend Adam Gilchrist has joined Team PARF as an ambassador for the 2019 Bridge to Brisbane. Brain tumour research is a cause close to Adam's heart which is why he is offering his support to Dr Sarah Olson's brain tumour research. Read more here.

For further information about joining Team PARF's Bridge to Brisbane fundraising, please follow this link.