Brain tumors can either originate in the brain, or spread to the brain from cancerous cells elsewhere in the body. A brain tumor can cause a variety of symptoms due to increased pressure on nerves, damage to brain tissue and brain swelling.
One of the most common signs of a brain tumor, headache, is associated with most types of brain tumors. However, since each brain tumor is unique in its composition and location, people with brain tumors can experience a wide array of symptoms. Signs of tumor in the brain depend on many variables, including the tumor’s location, size and type.
In particular, brain tumor symptoms depend on the tumor’s location in the brain. Tumors can form in nearly every part of the brain and surrounding tissues, meaning that symptoms can vary greatly. Generally, brain tumor symptoms are classified as either one or both of the following:
- Focal (meaning symptoms affect the function of the affected area of the brainâ€”this may result in focal seizures or personality changes)
- Nonfocal (the tumor affects overall brain function, causing such general symptoms as headaches, nausea, and lethargy).
Brain Stem Tumor Symptoms
The brain stem is the lower part of the brain, which attaches to the spinal cord. Common symptoms of a brain stem tumor include:
- Headache, usually in the morning
- Hearing loss
- Muscle weakness (one-sided)
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Speaking or swallowing problems
- Vision loss.
Ependymal Tumor Symptoms
Ependymomas are tumors growing in the ependyma, the thin membrane that lines the ventricular system of the spinal cord and brain. Ependymal brain tumor signs include:
- Stiff neck
- Tilting of the head
Symptoms of Tumor in Brain Lobes
The frontal lobe is located in the front of the brain. This part of the brain is responsible for higher mental functions, such as determining similarities and differences and choosing between “good” and “bad” actions. Signs of a frontal lobe tumor include:
- Behavioral changes
- Impaired judgment
- Memory loss
- Paralysis on one side of the body
- Vision loss.
The occipital lobe consists of the visual processing center of the brain; tumors in this portion of the brain may induce seizures or vision problems.
The parietal lobe is responsible for integrating sensory information. When a brain tumor grows in this part of the brain, a person can experience:
- Impaired speech and ability to write
- Lack of recognition
- Spatial disorders.
The temporal lobe is responsible for hearing, language processing and long-term memory. A tumor in the temporal lobe generally won’t produce symptoms, but it may cause seizures or impaired speech.
Signs of Tumor in the Meninges
The meninges are the collection of membranes that cover and protect the central nervous system. Meningiomas are tumors in the meninges, and cause symptoms including:
- Emotional changes
- Hearing, speech and/or vision loss
Pituitary Gland Brain Tumor Signs
The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain and is responsible for secreting hormones. A tumor in this region may, therefore, affect the rate of hormone secretion. Females could stop menstruating, and men may experience impotence.
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Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research Staff. (2008). Brain tumor. Retrieved April 5, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic website: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/brain-tumor/DS00281/DSECTION=symptoms.
MedicineNet Staff. (n.d.). Brain tumor. Retrieved April 5, 2010, from the MedicineNet.com website: http://www.medicinenet.com/brain_tumor/page5.htm.