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Symptoms of brain tumors

  • Some tumors do not cause symptoms until they are very large. Other tumors have symptoms that develop slowly over time. Symptoms depend on the tumor's size, location, how far it has spread and whether there is brain swelling. These symptoms can be caused by any number of conditions so it’s important to consult with a physician to find the cause. 

    The most common symptoms are:

    • Changes in the person's mental function
    • Headaches
    • Seizures (especially in older adults)
    • Weakness in one part or side of the body

    Headaches caused by brain tumors may:

    • Be worse when the person wakes up in the morning, and clear up in a few hours
    • Occur during sleep
    • Occur with vomiting, confusion, double vision, weakness, or numbness

    Other symptoms can include:

    • Change in alertness (including sleepiness, unconsciousness, and coma)
    • Changes in hearing, taste, or smell
    • Changes that affect touch and the ability to feel pain, pressure, different temperatures, or other stimuli
    • Confusion or memory loss
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Difficulty writing or reading
    • Dizziness or abnormal sensation of movement (vertigo)
    • Eye problems such as eyelid drooping, pupils of different sizes, uncontrollable eye movement, vision difficulties (including decreased vision, double vision, or total loss of vision)
    • Hand tremor
    • Lack of control over the bladder or bowels
    • Loss of balance or coordination, clumsiness, trouble walking
    • Muscle weakness in the face, arm, or leg (usually on just one side)
    • Numbness or tingling on one side of the body
    • Personality, mood, behavior, or emotional changes
    • Trouble speaking or understanding others who are speaking

    Other symptoms that may occur with a pituitary tumor:

    • Abnormal nipple discharge
    • Absent menstruation (periods)
    • Breast development in men
    • Enlarged hands, feet
    • Excessive body hair
    • Facial changes
    • Low blood pressure
    • Obesity
    • Sensitivity to heat or cold

     

  • Source: Virginia Piper Cancer Institute and John Nasseff Neuroscience Institute
    Reviewed by: John E. Trusheim, MD, medical director of neuro-oncology, Virginia Piper Cancer Institute
    First published: 06/28/2016
    Last reviewed: 06/01/2016

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