SYMPTOMS... are often the same as other illnesses. If you are experiencing multiple symptoms, be persistent

Common Symptoms

Brain tumours can present themselves with a whole variety of symptoms, depending upon which part of the brain is affected.  

The most common symptoms are caused by an increase in pressure in the skull caused by the growing tumour.  This is known as intracranial pressure and normally results in headaches and/or vomiting/nausea.  The headaches can be severe and persistent and often worse in the morning, particularly on coughing or exertion.

Other manifestations of intracranial pressure can include:-

  • Visual disturbances
  • Convulsions, (fits or faints, particularly in the over 40s)
  • Confusion

Other common symptoms, depending on which part of the brain is affected, include:-

  • Loss of balance or co-ordination
  • Numbness or weakness on one side of the body, resulting in stumbling or lack of co-ordination
  • Changes in personality
  • Impaired memory or mental ability, which may be very subtle to begin with
                  - Loss of intellect
                  - Blurred or double vision (an appointment to see an optician can help to verify the cause)
                  - Changes in senses, including smell and impaired hearing
                  - Problems with speech, writing or drawing
                  - Problems with averting the eyes upwards

Symptoms associated with the position of the tumour

Each area of the brain controls particular functions so a tumour can prevent a specific area of the brain from functioning normally.

Possible effects can include:

Brain stem:

-    Lack of co-ordination when walking
-    Double vision
-    Difficulty in swallowing and speaking
-    Facial weakness – one-sided smile or drooping eyelid


-    Flickering, involuntary movement of the eyes (nystagmus)
-    Vomiting and stiffness of the neck
-    Unco-ordinated walking and speech (dysarthria)

Temporal lobe:

-    Speech difficulties and memory problems.
-    Strange sensations – fear, blackouts, strange smells, déjà vu

Occipital lobe:

-    Gradual loss of vision on one side

Parietal lobe:

-    Problems with reading, writing or simple calculations
-    Difficulty in navigating one's way around
-    Numbness or weakness in one side of the body
-    Difficulty in understanding words or speaking

Frontal lobe:

-    Unsteadiness and weakness on one side of body
-    Changes in personality
-    Loss of smell

Obviously it is important not to get alarmed at the presence of these symptoms unless they are persistent and even then you need to bear in mind they can also be symptomatic of other illnesses or diseases.  However, if you suspect something is wrong, be firm and insist that you or your family member gets properly checked out.  Early treatment can avoid acute complications later on.

Referral Procedure

In order to diagnose the presence of a brain tumour an MRI or CT scan is imperative. If your doctor has failed to satisfy you as to the cause of your symptoms be adamant about getting a referral to a specialist, who should then send you for such a scan.  

For more information about symptoms of brain tumours go to Cancer Research UK

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