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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Brain cancer symptoms

Symptoms of brain cancer depend on several factors, including the tumor type, size, location and extent, as well as age, health history and more.

Some common signs of brain cancer include headache, weakness, numbness, nausea, vomiting or seizures. Some individuals may not feel right cognitively, or have visual, speech or coordination problems. The symptoms may be subtle or develop gradually.

Symptoms of brain cancer are influenced by which part of the brain is involved and the functional system it affects (e.g., motor, sensory, language, etc.). For example, vision problems may result from a tumor near the optic nerve. A tumor in the front part of the brain may affect the ability to concentrate and think. A tumor located in an area that controls motor function may cause weakness, numbness or difficulty with speech. Any tumor that is significantly large can create multiple symptoms because of the pressure created by the mass.

cancer symptoms

Brain cancer symptoms

Some potential brain cancer symptoms include:

  • Headaches: Having a headache could be related to many causes. A noticeable change in the frequency and intensity of headaches may indicate a brain tumor.
  • Vision changes: A tumor on or near the optical nerve could cause blurred or double vision. Other types of brain tumors may cause abnormal eye movements or changes in vision, depending on the size and location of the tumor.
  • Loss of motor skill: A brain tumor can affect certain areas of the brain responsible for motor functions, like balance, coordination or movement. Weakness of facial muscles may result from a tumor within the cranial nerves.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting: These symptoms, especially early in the morning and unrelated to other conditions, may indicate a brain tumor.
  • Speech problems: Some brain tumors can cause difficulty with speech.
  • Seizures: The onset of new seizures or convulsions can be the result of a tumor forming in the brain.
  • Cognitive problems: A brain tumor can impact cognitive abilities and result in memory problems, poor concentration, confusion, difficulty thinking clearly or processing information, and language difficulties.
  • Weakness or numbness: Some brain tumors cause weakness on one side of the body or other paraneoplastic syndromes, like peripheral neuropathy (numbness or tingling in the hands and feet).

There are also some more subtle signs of brain cancer that may affect your overall sense of well-being:

  • Change in personality: The brain is responsible for many functions. Sometimes a tumor on the front part of the brain can cause gradual changes in behavior, personality and thinking.
  • Hormonal disorders: The pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain, is vital to the production and regulation of hormones. Tumors within this area may impact the hormones, resulting in symptoms similar to certain endocrine disorders.

    Last Revised: 06/01/2018

    Understanding cancer symptoms

    These symptoms may be attributed to a number of conditions other than cancer. If you notice any cancer signs or symptoms, it's important to visit your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

    Meet our neurosurgery experts

    neurosurgery module

    If you have a neurologic cancer, it's important to be seen by a multidisciplinary team of physicians with expertise in performing cancer-related surgical procedures on the nervous system and its supporting structures.

    Meet some of our neurosurgery experts:

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