Brain Cancer Symptoms

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It is important to remember that no two persons with brain cancer tend to show same symptoms or signs. In addition, brain tumors and cancers may be sometimes difficult to diagnose as most of their symptoms and signs are commonplace and sometimes overlap with other ailments.

That said, the severity and extent of symptoms caused by brain tumors are linked to the type, grade, location and extent of the tumor.

Commonly the symptoms of the brain tumor is more due to the pressure that the tumor exerts on the surrounding brain tissues than the tumor or cancer itself.

Sometimes the symptoms are caused due to blockage of the flow of Cerebrospinal fluids (CSF) around the brain. The fluid essentially bathes the brain and nerve structures and a blockage in flow leads to build up that may cause swelling of the brain. (1, 2)

Headache is one of the commonest symptoms seen in adults with brain cancer. Persistent morning headaches often accompanied by vomiting or frequent vomiting and nausea should alert an individual and he or she should seek professional help.

Problems with vision like blurring, double vision, hearing impairments, slurring or difficulty in speech are also warning signs.

Other common problems include balance and posture maintenance, numbness or tingling of arms or legs, muscle twitches or jerking and weakness of one side of the body.

Less frequent symptoms include unusual sleepiness, drowsiness, unconsciousness, changes in personality, moods, concentration, memory or behavior. In some patients, brain tumors may manifest as epileptic fits or seizures. (1, 2)

Brain cancer symptoms in children

In children with brain tumors and cancers, symptoms may vary and may often be difficult to understand or report. While most of the symptoms of brain tumors are similar for children as in adults some like increased vomiting, vision, speech, balance, and hearing problems may alert parents.

Sleepiness, loss of activity, weakness of limbs, paralysis, seizures and changes of personality and behavior may also be red flags.

In infants there may be swelling of head size due to swelling of the brain or build up of CSF. This condition is called hydrocephalus and is diagnostic of pathology within the infant brain. (3)

Symptoms in patients with metastatic brain tumors

In patients with metastastic brain tumors the symptoms of brain cancer often accompany symptoms of cancers at other sites.

These include loss of balance and coordination leading to increased falls, fever, fatigue, lethargy, increased severity or new onset headache, memory or cognitive problems or changes in personality, moods or behavior.

Patients may often develop tingling pain, numbness or sensory changes, paralysis, weakness, speech or vision changes, vomiting and nausea. While some of these symptoms are attributed to their primary cancers, they need to seek advice regarding possible brain metastasis. (4)

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jun 9, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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  1. ghizdavu andreea ghizdavu andreea Italy says:

    am avut anul trecut o problema cu simtome asemanatoare vreau sa stiu daca e posibil sa fie ceva grav sau nu : totul a inceput cu faptul ca nu mai puteam sa vorbesc sa leg cuvintele apoi mia amortit toata partea dreapta a corpului cap mina picior spate limba tot doar partea dreapta este posibil sa fie o problema pe bava de nervi stres sau ceva mai grav am dureri de cap mai rare dar foarte puternice ca si cum iar exploda capul va rog daca puteti sa ma ajutati cu un raspuns .Va multumesc

    I had last year a problem with symptoms similar I want to know if it might be something serious or not: it all started with the fact that I could not speak I am looking words then thousand numb all the right body head hand foot back language all only the right side is likely to be a problem of nerves Bava stress or something more serious headaches have rare but very strong and as head explode please if you can help me with an answer .We thank you

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