Brain Cancer: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 2/8/2019

Brain cancer is cancer that arises in the brain. Primary brain cancer begins in cells of the brain itself. More commonly, cancer in the brain occurs when cancers elsewhere in the body the body spread, or metastasize, to the brain. However, these are not considered to be true brain cancers. While the cause of brain cancer is poorly understood, inherited and environmental factors are believed to be important in its development.

Symptoms and signs of brain cancer can include headache, weakness, clumsiness, difficulty walking, seizures, altered mental status, vomiting, nausea, or vision abnormalities. Other possible associated symptoms can include speech difficulty, dizziness, vertigo, muscle weakness, sleepiness, memory problems, hallucinations, fatigue, personality changes, or confusion. Symptoms may vary according to the specific location of the cancer within the brain.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/8/2019

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