Brain Cancer Facts You Should Know
Not all brain tumors cause symptoms, and some (such as tumors of the pituitary gland) are found mainly after death. The symptoms of brain cancer are numerous and not specific to brain tumors, meaning they can be caused by many other illnesses as well. The only way to know for sure what is causing the symptoms is to undergo diagnostic testing.
Symptoms can be caused by:
- A tumor pressing on or encroaching on other parts of your brain and keeping them from functioning normally.
- Swelling in the brain caused by the tumor or surrounding inflammation.
The symptoms of primary and metastatic brain cancers are similar, and generally include:
- Difficulty walking
Other nonspecific symptoms and signs include the following:
- Altered mental status — changes in concentration, memory, attention, or alertness
- Nausea, vomiting — especially early in the morning
- Abnormalities in vision
- Difficulty with speech
- Gradual changes in intellectual or emotional capacity
In many people, the onset of these symptoms is very gradual and may be missed by both the person with the brain tumor and the family. Occasionally, however, these symptoms appear more rapidly. In some instances, the person acts as if he or she is having a stroke.
See A Doctor If…
See your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Unexplained, persistent vomiting
- Double vision or unexplained blurring of vision, especially on only one side
- Lethargy or increased sleepiness
- New seizures
- New pattern or type of headaches
Although headaches are thought to be a common symptom of brain cancer, they may not occur until late in the progression of the disease. If any significant change in your headache pattern occurs, your health care provider may suggest that you go the hospital.
If you have a known brain tumor, any new symptoms or relatively sudden or rapid worsening of symptoms warrants a trip to the nearest hospital emergency department.