Cancer Treatment Centers of America

What are the symptoms of brain tumors?

Answered by: Clinton J. Baird, MD

Watch as Dr. Baird explains that common symptoms of a primary brain tumor include pain, a change in cognitive function, impaired vision or speech, seizures or hormonal problems. Whether the symptoms arise often depends on where the tumor is located.  

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Clinton Baird: Primary brain tumor symptoms are usually identified by neurological symptoms or pain. This can be headache, sometimes neck pain, nausea, vomiting, just a feeling of being not quite right cognitively. This is usually subtle, just not quite fully right with your cognitive abilities, and it often wouldn’t necessarily even be recognized by other people, though it can be, but it certainly would be recognized by yourself and that you just don’t feel quite right. It can also present with symptoms related to where exactly the tumor is located. If it’s located in an area that controls motor function, your visual function, or your language, it’ll affect that area directly with noticing decrease in your vision, weakness in an arm or leg or both, or difficulty with speech. There can also be seizures associated, regardless of where the tumor is located, and then occasionally there will be hormonal problems, for example if it’s a pituitary tumor you can present initially with just the changes of the hormones being affected at the pituitary gland. The cause for brain tumors is still somewhat unknown. This is in contrast to lung cancer where we know that smoking is a very definitive and defined risk factor for the development of lung cancer. The development of brain cancer, still today, is largely unknown. There are some genetic conditions and environmental factors which will contribute to the development of brain cancer, but it’s much less defined than the development of other cancers in the body.