Signs of a Brain Tumor


Brain tumors, which can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), have a profound impact on a patient's health in a multitude of ways. According to the Mayo Clinic, "The signs and symptoms of a brain tumor are incredibly varied and depend significantly on the size, location, and growth rate of the tumor."


However, there are some rather alarming and potentially incapacitating symptoms associated with brain tumors. A medical professional must undertake a comprehensive assessment to determine the most suitable treatment approach, be it surgery, radiation therapy, or an alternative method. Should you find yourself experiencing any of the following 13 symptoms, it is imperative to seek medical evaluation without delay:





  1. Headaches:
    Experiencing headaches when you are typically not prone to them, and their sudden and regular occurrence, could be indicative of various health issues, including an early sign of a brain tumor, as per WebMD. These headaches often do not respond to common over-the-counter remedies in the same way other headaches might. Nevertheless, it is essential to remember, as the site emphasizes, that most headaches are not linked to brain tumors.
  2. Seizures:
    The onset of seizures can be an initial indication of something unusual occurring in the brain, possibly due to a brain tumor, states the American Brain Tumor Association. Certain types of brain tumors, such as slow-growing gliomas, meningiomas (affecting the brain and spinal cord membranes), and metastatic brain tumors (cancer that originates elsewhere and spreads to the brain), are more likely to cause seizures. These seizures are characterized by sudden convulsions, loss of bodily function, brief cessation of breathing leading to a "dusky blue" skin color, and subsequent weakness or numbness. Generally, these episodes are brief, lasting only 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Cognitive Decline:
    Brain tumors can significantly impair the brain's ability to process information. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America notes that brain tumors may cause difficulties in memory retention, concentration, and clear communication. Symptoms such as confusion and impaired clarity of thought may develop gradually, serving as early warning signs that warrant further investigation by a doctor.
  4. Balance and Coordination Issues: explains that physical manifestations, whether due to the cancer itself or its treatments, can be clear indicators of a brain tumor. As the brain and spinal cord are integral components of the central nervous system, patients with brain cancer may experience various side effects, including difficulties with walking and balance, vertigo (a sensation of the room spinning), and compromised coordination (for example, challenges with simple tasks like tying shoelaces).
  5. Personality Changes:
    Alterations in behavior or personality in individuals with brain tumors can place additional strain on family members and caregivers. As explains, the frontal lobe of the brain, which acts as the control center for personality, is particularly affected by tumors in this region. Tumors in other parts of the brain can also cause hormonal imbalances and significant frustration, especially if they impair speech. "A patient with a brain tumor who has lost their ability to speak might desperately wish to express love to a grandchild but find themselves unable to articulate the words," the source adds.
  6. Hearing Loss:
    The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada points out that brain tumors can affect both the ability to speak and to hear. While the ear plays a crucial role in hearing, it is ultimately the brain that processes sounds. This means that even if the ear and its inner structures are intact, the brain's pathways and receptors might be compromised. Acoustic neuromas, for instance, can impact hearing, often resulting in high-frequency hearing loss and poor word recognition. Tumors can affect hearing either by impacting the specific auditory relay systems or through "mass effects" like creating pressure or causing displacement of the brain depending on the tumor's size.
  7. Unilateral Weakness: also describes how a patient might experience weakness on one side of the body, affecting both the arm and leg on that side. Additionally, there may be confusion about the differentiation between the left and right sides of the body, linked to tumors in the frontal or parietal lobes of the brain. An "altered perception" of touch or pressure is another symptom, with potential impacts on the ability to sense pain or temperature variations.
  8. Vision Changes:
    According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, tumors near the optic nerve can cause blurred or double vision, and other types of tumors may lead to abnormal eye movements. The American Brain Tumor Association provides a more concerning perspective, noting the possibility of developing blind spots, loss of peripheral vision, or sudden blindness, which could indicate pressure on the brain from the tumor. Immediate medical attention is crucial in cases of sudden blindness.
  9. Speech Challenges:
    The location of a brain tumor can affect areas typically responsible for clear communication, as noted by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Consequently, the affected individual may struggle with speech or face "language difficulties," such as being unable to find the right words or comprehend what is being said to them.
  10. Muscle Twitches: discusses meningiomas, tumors forming on the membranes covering the brain and nearby spinal cord, noting that pressure from these tumors can cause involuntary muscle movements or convulsions, also referred to as motor seizures. While this can result in severe seizures with loss of bodily function (known as tonic-clonic or grand mal seizures), it can also manifest as single or multiple muscle twitches, jerks, or spasms (known as myoclonic seizures).
  11. Depression:
    Reader’s Digest highlights that, in addition to personality changes potentially involving risky behavior, brain cancer can lead to a decline in mood. Depression, anxiety, and anger all emanate from the frontal lobe, which may become compressed or irritated by a tumor. In some instances, this could lead to misdiagnosis of a psychiatric issue, when in fact it is a physical change in the brain causing the mood or behavioral changes.
  12. Infertility:
    The same source notes that brain cancer can also affect fertility. The brain oversees hormone regulation, including those crucial for reproduction. The pituitary gland, albeit small, is responsible for hormone production. "Tumors affecting the pituitary gland can either secrete excessive amounts of hormones or inhibit the normal functioning of the gland," explains the source. This disruption can affect both the ability to conceive and lactation post-childbirth.
  13. Fatigue/Lethargy: in the UK discusses tumor-related fatigue, identifying it as "the most prevalent side effect" of brain tumors and brain cancer. Individuals with non-cancerous brain tumors may also experience fatigue, defined as a tiredness not alleviated by rest. This fatigue may manifest as a sensation of heaviness in the limbs, making movement more challenging. It's important to note that fatigue is also a common side effect of treatments like surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Therefore, if the tumor itself isn't the direct cause of the exhaustion, the treatment could be contributing to this overwhelming tiredness.