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Signs & Symptoms

General Symptoms

Brain tumor symptoms depend very much on the size of the tumor and where it is located within the brain. Some general symptoms include:

  • Headaches, often not limited to a specific site in the head. Usually, these headaches are persistent, and they tend to get worse with activity, at night, or in the early morning.
  • Convulsions (fits or seizures), particularly in people over 40 with no previous history of seizures. This is often a strong indication of a brain tumor.
  • Vomiting with or without nausea.
  • Subtle changes in personality, memory, mental ability.
  • Drowsiness and/or lethargy.

Symptoms Depending on Tumor Location

Different areas of the brain are "control centers" for many important functions; so, brain tumor symptoms can be location-specific. Symptoms might occur on the right side of the body if the tumor is located on the left side of the brain and viceversa, depending on the specific brain structure affected. Most people have their speech center in the left side of the brain. A brain tumor in this area can mean a patient has difficulty saying the correct words, even though he or she is fully capable of understanding what is being said. If the tumor is in the frontal lobe, the patient's activities controlled by the frontal lobe will be affected such as intellectual functioning, thought process, behavior, and memory. The following symptoms may be due to a tumor's effect on specific brain structures:

  • blurred or double vision.
  • weakness, often one-sided, in the arms or legs; stumbling or lack of co-ordination.
  • impaired memory.
  • slurring of speech or difficulty speaking.
  • difficulty swallowing.
  • problems with smelling and hearing.
  • inability of eyes to gaze upwards.

All of these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than cancer. However, people who notice any symptoms should always see their doctor.