Signs and Symptoms of Brain Cancer

Updated at: Feb 10, 2012
Signs and Symptoms of Brain Cancer

Brain cancer can cause many different symptoms depending on the size and location of the cancerous tissue or tumour in the brain. Symptoms of brain cancer vary from headache to physical weakness and speech impairment.

Gunjan Rastogi
CancerWritten by: Gunjan RastogiPublished at: Feb 07, 2012

Signs and symptoms of brain cancer

With 35,000 people diagnosed every year, brain cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide.  A mass of tumour develops in the brain because of an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells causing brain tumour. Brain cancer has numerous symptoms, but it is not necessary that all the symptoms are signs of brain cancer. They can also be caused by many other illnesses. Damage to the brain tissue causes symptoms. Only neurological examination and tests can appropriately tell the reason behind the occurrence of these symptoms. If the cancerous cells are multiplying slowly, the symptoms may not occur for some time.

Some frequent signs and symptoms of brain cancer are:

  • Headache

Initially, people with brain cancer experience headache in the morning, which lessens as the day passes. Not all headaches are associated with brain cancer; headaches related to this type of cancer, usually, have a particular pattern. These headaches come and go at anytime and one may experience them for several days, weeks or months.

  • Changes in Personality

The size and location of the cancerous tissue in the brain also affects the personality of the sufferer. Changes in behaviour and temperament occur as the cancerous tissue increases pressure within the skull and interferes with the normal brain functioning.

  • Psychological Changes

Brain cancer severely affects the concentration level and intellectual of the infected person. It affects the memory and results in cognitive impairment.

  • Seizures and Convulsions

Brain cancer disrupts the normal flow of electricity in the brain thereby, causing abnormal sensations, seizures and loss of consciousness.

  • Physical Problems

People suffering from brain cancer may experience symptoms such as speech impairment, vision abnormalities (double vision or peripheral vision loss), difficulty in walking, hearing loss, clumsiness, weakness, lack of coordination, reduced muscle control and imbalance.

Symptoms depending on tumour’s location

  • Brain stem (Medulla Oblongata, Midbrain, and Pons) controls the primary life functions such as breathing, sleeping and eating pattern, heartbeat, consciousness etc.  Symptoms of a tumour of the brain stem include early morning nausea, vomiting, nasal speech, hearing loss, changes in personality, vision abnormalities and uncoordinated walk.
  • A tumour in the Cerebellopontine angle produces buzzing in the ear, drowsiness, hearing impairment, facial weakness and other symptoms that are same as brain stem.
  • A tumour in any of the cerebral hemispheres affects intellectual functioning, thought processes, behaviour, memory and other voluntary actions. Symptoms of this tumour include blindness or visual interruptions, urinary frequency, spatial disorder, seizures, hearing loss, impaired memory, impaired judgement and loss of smell.
  • Common symptoms of tumour located in pituitary include headache, hormone disturbances, visual disturbances, diabetes insipidus and breast enlargement.
  • A tumour in thalamus affects the sensory centre of the cerebrum and generates symptoms such as muscle weakness, speech impairment, urinary frequency, sensory loss, vomiting and difficulty in walking.

These are some general signs and symptoms, but you should also consider the occurrence of other frequent symptoms. Immediately consult a doctor if you witness any sign or symptom of brain cancer.


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