Symptoms of a brain tumor depend on the type and location of the tumor. Symptoms may develop suddenly or gradually over time. They can be caused by the tumor growing or increased pressure inside your skull. They also can be a sign of other health problems, such as an infection or blood clot.
Types of Brain Tumors
Primary brain tumors, such as meningiomas and gliomas, are benign (non-cancerous) and typically don’t spread to surrounding tissue. They tend to respond well to treatment.
Malignant brain tumors, such as glioblastomas and astrocytomas, are aggressive (malignant) and can be life-threatening. They often grow quickly and require more intensive treatment.
Secondary (metastatic) brain tumors occur when cancer cells that have started elsewhere in the body spread (metastasize) to the brain. These tumors are most common in adults and tend to occur in people with a cancer history.
The most common symptom of a brain tumor is headaches. They can range from mild to severe and may be accompanied by other neurological symptoms such as nausea or vomiting. They can also affect vision and cause loss of coordination or balance.
Usually, pain caused by a brain tumor is worse when you wake up or breathe in and out through your mouth. It can also be more severe when you cough or strain. Some brain tumors can also make you lose your sense of smell.
Some types of brain tumors can cause problems with your vision. These symptoms may include drooping eyelids, blurred or double vision, loss of peripheral (side) vision, and difficulty seeing objects clearly.
Often, these symptoms occur when the tumor is in the area of the brain that controls movement and balance. You may even have trouble speaking or walking.
If you have a brain tumor, visit your GP or call an ambulance immediately. They will check you for other possible causes of your symptoms and refer you to a specialist for a proper diagnosis. If you have a brain tumor and your doctor suspects it could be cancer, they will do a biopsy to look for any cancer cells in the tissue sample removed.
MRI or CT scan
These tests can show a tumor in detail. They use a special type of x-ray called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a computerized tomography (CT) scan to map your brain and determine the exact position of the tumor. A contrast agent that makes the tumor easier to see is injected into a vein (intravenously) before the test.
Your doctor will ask you to keep a diary of your symptoms and any other signs or changes suggesting you have a brain tumor. These notes can help your doctor determine the type, size, and location of the tumor, which is essential for treating it effectively.
Brain tumors release certain substances that can be checked in a laboratory to confirm your diagnosis. These markers are often found in high concentrations in the tumor tissue.