10 November 2023

Actor Johnny Ruffo dies from brain cancer: Brain tumour symptoms everyone needs to know about

10 November 2023

Australian actor and singer Johnny Ruffo has died from brain cancer, six years after he was first diagnosed.

The 35-year-old made his first appearance as Chris Harrington in the popular Aussie soap Home And Away in 2013, two years after appearing in the final of The X Factor in Australia.

A statement on his official Instagram said: “It is with a heavy heart that today we had to farewell our beloved Johnny.

“Surrounded by his partner Tahnee and family, Johnny went peacefully with the support of some incredible nurses and doctors.”

The statement continued: “Johnny was very determined and had a strong will. He battled all the way to the end and fought as hard as he could. Such a beautiful soul with so much more to give.

“We all love you Johnny and will remember you for all the joy you brought to our lives. Rest easy.”

Ruffo first announced in August 2017 that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer and was starting “aggressive treatment”.

He underwent surgery to remove the tumour and revealed he was in remission two years later. However, in November 2020 he announced on Instagram that his cancer had returned, before confirming his condition was terminal two years later, releasing his memoir No Finish Line in the same month.

The actor’s death sparked an outpouring of tributes from both fans and fellow celebrities who worked with Ruffo over the years – and has shone a light on brain cancer.

Although relatively rare, according to The Brain Tumour Charity, the number of people diagnosed in the UK has gone up by 30% over the last 20 years.

There are different types of brain cancer, some of which may be harder to treat than others. But overall, just 12% of UK adults survive for five years after a brain tumour diagnosis, with the disease continuing to reduce life expectancy by 27 years on average — the highest of any cancer.

So, what are the brain tumour symptoms people should be aware of? Leading cancer care experts at The Christie in Manchester outlined the following warning signs…


If you have a fit or a seizure out of the blue, you should go to A&E, where an urgent brain scan would be considered.

Weakness of the face/arm/leg on one side of the body

Such weakness may come on suddenly, like a stroke, or may become more noticeable gradually over a few weeks, for example dragging your leg or tripping over kerbs because you don’t seem to be able to lift your foot up properly.

Marked speech disturbance

Slurred speech, being unable to find your words or coming out with the wrong words. Struggling to find a word sometimes is normal; but it would become worrying if it was becoming steadily worse over a period of weeks or months, and was associated with other symptoms.

Personality change

People who have a brain tumour may become steadily more withdrawn or confused over a period of a few months, or struggle with tasks they used to be able to do, such as playing an instrument or doing internet banking.

Vision changes

Sometimes, tumours in the brain reduce our ability to see objects to one side. This might cause people to bump into doorframes, not be able to see someone sitting on the left or right side, or clip the wing mirrors of parked cars if driving. If you’re concerned about vision changes, begin by seeing an optician, who can perform a full eye test and refer you to hospital if necessary.

Difficulty reading or interpreting words

You may notice that over a few weeks, you’re increasingly struggling to write emails or send texts, or to work out what subtitles or words in a book say – you may be able to see the words clearly, but the brain refuses to interpret them or make sense of them.


Headaches are the symptom most people associate with brain tumours, but it’s actually relatively unusual for headache to be the only symptom of a brain tumour. When it comes to being concerned about brain tumours, doctors talk about ‘headache plus’, meaning headache plus other symptoms. Worrying headaches are those which have become ‘clearly, definitely and progressively worse’ over a period of two to three months, and which become associated with some of the other symptoms.

If headache is the only symptom, it’s usually a headache which is different to any headache you’ve ever had before, and which becomes much more severe very quickly, over a period of a few weeks. It may be present in the morning, waking you from sleep, or become associated with nausea, vomiting and drowsiness.

While these symptoms don’t automatically mean you have cancer, it’s always best to get things checked by a doctor.

For further information, see thebraintumourcharity.org

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