Headache as a presenting symptom of glioma: A cross-sectional study

Marco Russo, Veronica Villani, Arens Taga, Antonio Genovese, Irene Terrenato, Gian Camillo Manzoni, Franco Servadei, Paola Torelli, Andrea Pace

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Objective The objective of this study was to analyse the prevalence and the clinical features of headache as a presenting symptom of glioma. Methods We interviewed 527 consecutive adult patients with histologically confirmed glioma, admitted to the Regina Elena National Cancer Institute between 2010 and 2015. We defined four headache phenotypes: Tension-type-like headache (TTH), migraine-like headache, worsening of a pre-existing headache (WPH) and classic brain tumour headache (BTH). Logistic regression analysis was carried out to investigate potential risk factors for headache at presentation of glioma. Results 12.5% (n = 66) of patients with glioma indicated headache as a presenting symptom of their disease. Of these, 31 patients (47%) had TTH, while BTH and WPH were reported by 28 (42%) and seven (11%) patients, respectively. We did not find any case of migraine-like headache. Infratentorial ( p = 0.038) and right-sided tumours ( p = 0.013) were more frequently associated with the presence of headache at onset. Patients with TTH were older than patients with BTH and WPH ( p = 0.035). BTH was less frequently associated with other neurological signs ( p < 0.0001). The multivariate logistic regression analysis showed the localization of the brain tumour in the left hemisphere to be a protective factor for the development of headache. Conclusions Our study includes a very large series of patients with glioma, providing a description of headache phenotype at first presentation of disease and investigating possible factors that may influence the clinical features of headache.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jan 1 2017


  • Journal Article


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