It can be difficult to know when to talk to a physician about unusual symptoms that could potentially indicate a brain tumor. This is because most brain tumors don't produce symptoms until they've reached a certain size, and when symptoms do occur, they often resemble the symptoms of other, less serious conditions. Chronic headaches, for instance, are one of the most common brain tumor symptoms, although countless people who do not have cancer also experience headaches as a result of tension, stress, dehydration or non-life-threatening neurological issues.
Despite all of this, there are several brain tumor symptoms that should immediately be discussed with a physician. These symptoms include:
- An inability to speak or respond to speech
- A sudden onset of blurred vision
Seizures and brain cancer
Seizures are sudden episodes of involuntary convulsions that are caused by uncontrolled electrical impulses in the brain. While seizures can be caused by other conditions such as epilepsy, a brain tumor can irritate the neurons in the brain, causing muscle contractions, twitching, numbness and tingling, shallow breathing and loss of consciousness.
Cognitive symptoms of brain cancer
The temporal lobe of the brain is responsible for hearing, memory and learning processes, and recognizing objects and faces. The temporal lobe also contains Wernicke’s area, which is responsible for understanding language and speech. A brain tumor in this part of the brain can make a person suddenly unable to speak or respond to the verbal communications of others.
Other parts of the brain are responsible for other cognitive functions. The frontal lobe regulates attention and concentration, problem-solving and decision-making functions and thinking speed. The parietal lobe coordinates sensory information and helps process spatial relationships. Tumors in these parts of the brain can cause other cognitive brain tumor symptoms, including difficulty recalling short-term memories, irritability and other personality changes and an inability to concentrate.
Vision changes and brain cancer
A brain tumor in the temporal lobe, occipital lobe or brain stem can cause vision changes, the most common of which is blurred or double vision. Eye twitching is another clear indicator that a brain tumor might be present. While some vision changes can occur gradually, any sudden changes should be immediately discussed with a physician.
"Any adult who develops a seizure should be evaluated immediately with a CT scan or MRI of the brain."- Dr. Peter Forsyth, Chair of the Department of Neuro-Oncology
Medically reviewed by Dr. Peter Forsyth, Chair of the Department of Neuro-Oncology
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we can evaluate your symptoms and medical history and perform any diagnostic tests that you might need, all in the same location. If you’d like to discuss your brain tumor symptoms with a member of our Neuro-Oncology Program, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online to request an appointment.