The symptoms of a brain tumor can vary based on its location and size. The upper part of the brain is divided into four distinct sections, or lobes, paired on each side, which are responsible for controlling different functions, and there are two other deeper areas that have their own specific functions. As a tumor grows, it can create pressure on surrounding tissues, which may affect the functions controlled by that specific area of the brain. If you are diagnosed with a brain tumor, ask your physician to explain where it is located. This information can help you prepare for and manage your symptoms.
Here are some possible brain tumor locations along with their corresponding symptoms:
The Frontal Lobe
Located behind the forehead, the frontal lobe of the brain controls cognitive skills, such as communication, memory, judgment, problem solving and emotional expression. In addition to personality changes, such as apathy, irritation or aggression, a brain tumor in this location can cause speech or vision problems, weakness on one side of the body and difficulty walking.
The Temporal Lobe
Situated on the sides of the brain, next to the ears, the temporal lobe serves as the site for initiating new memories. It also houses the primary auditory cortex, which receives sensory information from the ears and processes it into meaningful units, such as words. The most common symptoms of a brain tumor in this location include seizures, forgetting words and short-term memory loss.
The Parietal Lobe
The parietal lobe is the brain's primary sensory processing area, which interprets and integrates multiple types of inputs from the body, particularly with respect to understanding the relationship of “self” with the outside world. A brain tumor in this location can cause incoordination and the appearance of weakness, right-left confusion, difficulty with mathematics or a loss of sensation in part of the body.
The Occipital Lobe
The smallest of the four upper brain lobes, the occipital lobe is at the back of the head. It processes information from the eyes and other areas of the brain and is responsible for visual perception. A brain tumor in this location can cause vision issues, including loss of parts of the visual field and inability to read.
The cerebellum sits below the occipital lobes and above the foramen magnum. It is responsible for coordination of movements and balance. Brain tumors in this location can cause imbalance as well as severe headaches and nausea as pressure from a tumor can block an important fluid passage that runs between the upper and lower parts of the brain.
The brainstem is a deep portion of the brain that integrates activities within and between the upper and lower parts of the brain. It is also a relay station between the brain and spinal cord. Brain tumors in this location can cause double vision, weakness in the face and body, loss of sensation, hearing loss, swallowing difficulties and difficulty remaining awake.
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Michael Vogelbaum, Program Leader, Department of Neuro-Oncology.
If you would like to learn more about brain tumor locations and the associated symptoms, you can consult with a specialist in the Neuro-Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center. To request an appointment, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online.