Signs and symptoms
The symptoms can develop gradually or over a very short period of time; this will depend on the type of brain tumor the patient has. Malignant and benign tumors can cause the same symptoms.
Some of the symptoms depend on where the tumor is located. As it grows, the tumor affects the nearby brain tissue, impeding the brain from functioning normally. The tumor may trigger inflammation, increasing the pressure inside the brain and causing other symptoms.
Headaches are a common symptom of brain tumors, though they are not usually the only symptom. Headaches are usually dull and constant, though they can occasionally be sharp.
It is important to see a doctor if your headaches wake you up at night, if they are worse in the morning, or if you have nausea.
- Symptoms of increased pressure
A tumor can increase cranial pressure (increased intracranial pressure). It can be caused by swelling around the tumor, by the tumor itself, or by blockage of the cerebrospinal fluid.
The most common symptoms of increased pressure are headache, nausea, and vomiting. Headaches tend to be worse in the morning and worsen when you cough, sneeze, or bend over. There may also be changes in vision and problems with balance.
Seizures are a common symptom of brain tumors. They are more common in tumors that start in the brain. There are different types of seizure: some can cause spasms when the muscles relax and contract, possibly causing loss of consciousness for a period of time or leading to the person biting their own tongue or cheek. Another type of seizure can make the person turn pale and unresponsive for a period lasting seconds or minutes.
After an episode, the person may feel very tired and confused for a short while.
- Changes in personality and behavior
Patients with brain tumors may undergo changes in their personality and behavior or have trouble thinking, reasoning, or remembering things. Sometimes, family members or friends are the first to notice these changes.
- Symptoms and tumor position
Some symptoms depend on the position the tumor is in:
- The frontal lobe: changes in personality or behavior, lack of coordination when walking or weakness on one side of the body.
- The temporal lobe: problems speaking or memory difficulties.
- The occipital lobe: vision problems.
- The cerebellum: lack of coordination, double vision or blurred vision, lack of balance or speech problems.
- The brainstem: dizziness, lack of balance, lack of coordination when walking, weakness in the face, double vision, difficult speaking and swallowing.
- The pituitary gland: different hormone-related symptoms, including irregular periods, infertility, weight gain, hypertension, diabetes, and mood swings.
- The nerve that controls hearing and balance (acoustic nerve): acoustic neuroma can cause loss of hearing in one or both ears. People who have neurofibromatosis are more prone to hearing loss in both ears.