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Brain Tumors in Adults

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Symptoms of a Brain Tumor

Since there are so many different types of brain tumors, the symptoms will vary. But what brain tumors generally have in common is that they take up space and put pressure on surrounding tissue and block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). That pressure can lead to these common symptoms:

  • headache
  • nausea or vomiting (usually in the morning)
  • personality changes
  • irritability or depression
  • drowsiness or lethargy

When an individual has a brain tumor in the front of the brain (the cerebrum), symptoms may include:

  • seizures
  • vision problems
  • slurred speech
  • paralysis or weakness on half of the body or face
  • drowsiness and/or confusion

When someone has a brain tumor in the brain stem, symptoms may include:

  • clumsiness or difficulty walking
  • respiratory problems
  • double vision or other vision problems
  • paralysis or weakness on half of the body or face

When someone has a brain tumor in the back of the brain (the cerebellum, which controls movement and balance), symptoms may include:

  • uncoordinated movement
  • problems walking
  • lack of coordination and balance
  • trouble with fine motor control, including handwriting
  • difficulty swallowing

Of course, not everyone with a headache or episodes of clumsiness has a brain tumor. Since the symptoms of a brain tumor can be vague and can be the same as symptoms of other conditions, anyone showing any of these neurological symptoms should be evaluated first by their primary care physician. Your doctor may order further tests or refer you to a neurologist or neurological surgeon for further evaluation.  If you need an evaluation, you may request an appointment using our online form.

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Reviewed by Rohan Ramakrishna, M.D.
Last reviewed/last updated: December 2020