Brain cancer symptoms

This page was reviewed under our medical and editorial policy by

Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science

This page was updated on June 8, 2022.

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 may cause multiple symptoms because of the pressure created by the mass.

Early warning signs of brain cancer

Brain cancer symptoms vary depending on the type, extent and location of the tumor, as well as the patient’s age and healthy history, and often mimic those caused by other medical conditions, so it’s important to consult a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Early signs of brain cancer may include:

  • A headache that changes depending on the time of day and position of the head and gets worse over time
  • Seizures
  • Numbness

Symptoms of brain cancer

Common symptoms of brain cancer may also include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Memory loss,
  • Muscle weakness
  • Speech difficulty
  • Mood or personality changes
  • Unexplained tiredness
  • Changes in menstrual cycle
  • Impotence or infertility
  • Overproduction or underproduction of breast milk
  • Cushing’s syndrome (a condition marked by weight gain)
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Bruising

Some patients may not feel right cognitively, or have visual, speech or coordination problems. The symptoms may be subtle or develop gradually.

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