What Are Some Symptoms of a Brain Tumor?

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Brain tumor symptoms include a change in headache patterns, more severe or frequent headaches, unexplained nausea or vomiting, and vision problems, according to Mayo Clinic. Other symptoms include a loss of sensation or movement in an arm or a leg over time and difficulty with balance, speech or hearing.

Brain tumors are classified as either primary or secondary. Primary brain tumors begin when normal cells in the brain, or tissue that is in close proximity to it, mutate and divide at abnormal rates when normal cells would ordinarily die. The result is the formation of tumors. Primary tumors take many forms, including glipmas, meningiomas, acoustic neuromas, pituitary adenomas and medulloblastomas. Secondary tumors occur as the result of cancer that spreads to the brain from other parts of the body.

Diagnosing a brain tumor generally begins with the treating physician learning about the patient’s symptoms, conducting a full medical examination and taking a family history, explains WebMD. If the physician suspects a brain tumor, he may order imaging tests, such as a CAT scan, an MRI, an angiogram or an MRA to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of a brain tumor depends on the scope, severity and location of the tumor, but surgery is usually the primary option, notes WebMD. In some circumstances, surgical removal is not an option, and other treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, may be used.

Brain tumors may cause balance problems, notes Mayo Clinic. Some people with a brain tumor may experience a gradual loss of movement or sensation in an arm or leg. Brain tumors can cause unwarranted confusion, seizures and hearing problems. Signs and symptoms of a brain tumor vary widely based on the growth rate, location and size of the tumor. If symptoms are persistent and cause concern, it is important to seek medical advice.

Although brain tumors can occur at any age, they are most common in older adults, notes Mayo Clinic. The cause of the brain tumor is usually unknown. Recurrent forms of radiation such as the type associated with cell phones, microwaves or power lines have not been proven to cause brain tumors, as of 2015, but people who have been exposed to ionizing radiation are at higher risk. Some types of brain tumors are caused by genetic syndromes that run in the family.