Yes, they can. Seizures occur when the brain’s normal patterns of electrical impulses are disrupted. They are a common symptom of brain tumors, with most patients experiencing at least one seizure throughout the course of their illness. It’s still unclear exactly how and why brain tumors cause seizures.
What happens during a seizure?
Seizures vary from person to person and can cause a wide array of symptoms, such as:
- Intense emotions
- A feeling of déjà vu or jamais vu
- Numbness, tingling or a burning sensation
- Strange smells or tastes
- A rising sensation in the stomach
- Muscle stiffness and twitching
- Wandering around
- Fiddling with objects
- Chewing or smacking the lips
- Difficulty speaking or understanding words
- Uncontrollably crying out or laughing
Tonic-clonic seizures—which involve loss of consciousness, muscle stiffening and convulsions—also can be caused by brain tumors.
What makes someone more likely to have a seizure?
Certain individuals with brain tumors are more likely to experience seizures than others. This often has to do with the type of tumor present and where it’s located within the brain. Low-grade tumors (ones that are slow-growing and less likely to spread) have a greater probability of causing seizures than high-grade tumors (ones that are fast-growing and more aggressive). Additionally, brain tumors in the cerebral cortex or meninges are more likely to cause seizures than ones in the cerebellum or brain stem.
Most seizures are caused by something other than a brain tumor, particularly in children. But a seizure can also be the first symptom associated with a brain tumor. If you’ve experienced a seizure and you’re concerned that it might have been caused by a brain tumor, turn to the specialists at Moffitt Cancer Center. The experienced professionals in our Neuro-Oncology Program can evaluate your condition and recommend an individualized course of treatment.
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Michael Vogelbaum, Program Leader, Department of Neuro-Oncology.