Brain Tumor: 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 9/10/2019

The symptoms of a brain tumor vary according to the size, type, and location of the tumor. Symptoms typically arise because of destruction or damage to the brain, swelling of the brain, or blockage of the flow of fluid that flows around the brain and spinal cord.

Brain tumors may be benign or malignant (brain cancer). It is important to note that most cases of cancer within the brain are metastatic cancers from other sites in the body. However, true brain cancers (malignant brain tumors) do exist. Both benign and malignant brain tumors can cause the symptoms described in this article.

Some of the most common symptoms of brain tumors include headaches, which can be severe and are typically worse in the mornings. The headache may not respond to usual treatments for headache and may be of a different type or pattern than previous headaches. Changes in vision, speech, or hearing can occur. Seizures or convulsions can be symptoms of a brain tumor. Other possible symptoms include gait disturbances, balance problems, nausea and vomiting, memory problems, weakness in one part of the body, difficulty concentrating, personality changes, and numbness or tingling in the extremities.

It's important to note that all of these symptoms can be due to other conditions and most commonly arise from causes other than a brain tumor.

Causes of brain tumors

The exact cause of brain tumors is not well understood. Risk factors can include exposure to radiation and family history of brain tumors.

Related Symptoms & Signs

Other brain tumor symptoms and signs

National Brain Tumor Society. <>.

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Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019
National Brain Tumor Society. <>.