OHSU

Symptoms

Brain tumor symptoms depend on the type of tumor, its size, where it is located in the brain and other factors. Symptoms are different for each person. Doctors at the OHSU Brain Institute are experts at recognizing brain tumor symptoms and treating brain and central nervous system tumors.

Many brain tumor symptoms are caused by increased pressure inside the brain or around it. The skull has no space for anything except your brain and the cerebrospinal fluid (fluid around the brain and spinal cord). A brain tumor adds tissue, fluid or both to this space. The extra tissue or fluid can press on the brain from inside or block the channels that drain cerebrospinal fluid out of your skull. If this happens, pressure inside the skull (intracranial pressure) rises and causes symptoms.

Common brain tumor symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Vomiting (usually in the morning)
  • Nausea
  • Personality changes
  • Irritability
  • Drowsiness
  • Depression
  • Decreased heart and lung function and, eventually coma if not treated

Symptoms of brain tumors in the cerebrum (main part of the brain) may include:

  • Increased intracranial pressure (pressure inside the skull)
  • Seizures
  • Vision problems
  • Slurred speech (trouble speaking clearly)
  • Paralysis or weakness on half the body or face
  • Drowsiness (feeling sleepy), confusion or both
  • Personality changes
  • Poor judgment (trouble making decisions or making bad decisions)
  • Short-term memory loss (trouble remembering things that recently happened)
  • Gait disturbances (problems walking or running)
  • Communication problems (trouble with your thoughts, opinions, speech, or writing)

Symptoms of brain tumors in the brainstem (part of the brain that connects to the spinal cord) may include:

  • Increased intracranial pressure (pressure inside the skull)
  • Seizures
  • Endocrine problems (diabetes, hormone problems)
  • Vision problems, including double vision (seeing double)
  • Headaches
  • Paralysis of nerves or muscles of the face or half the body
  • Breathing changes
  • Clumsy, uncoordinated walk
  • Hearing loss
  • Personality changes

Symptoms of brain tumors in the cerebellum (back of the brain) may include:

  • Increased intracranial pressure (pressure inside the skull)
  • Vomiting (usually in the morning without nausea)
  • Headache
  • Uncoordinated muscle movements
  • Problems walking

The symptoms of a brain tumor may be similar to symptoms of other conditions. Talk with your doctor if you are concerned you or a loved one might have a brain tumor.