When would a headache be a cause of worry and an indication to undergo an MRI scan?

Doctor's Answers 1

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Dr Paul Ang

General Practitioner

A headache could be a sign of a brain tumour. The best way would be to consult a doctor to find out if your headache requires you to undergo an MRI scan.

While a headache could be a sign of a brain tumour, people who have headaches, are not at increased risk of having brain cancer. [1]

As you can see: the risk of having a brain tumour in the general population is 0.4%. And the same goes for patients with headache, less than 1% of these patients will turn out to have a brain tumour.

However, there could be certain signs that some headaches could be more dangerous than others, and that, you would have to consult a doctor to differentiate.


  1. Kurth T, Buring JE, Rist PM. Headache, migraine and risk of brain tumors in women: prospective cohort study. J Headache Pain. 2015;16(1):501. Published 2015 Mar 1. doi:10.1186/s10194-015-0501-0

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