Symptoms Of Brain Cancer – Beware!

Brain cancer is an overgrowth of cells in your brain that form masses called brain tumors.

Many different types of brain tumors exist. Some brain tumors are noncancerous (benign), and some brain tumors are cancerous (malignant).

Brain tumors can begin in your brain (primary brain tumors), or cancer can begin in other parts of your body and spread to your brain causing brain cancer (secondary, or metastatic, brain tumors).

How quickly a brain tumor grows can vary greatly. The growth rate, as well as the location of a brain tumor, determines how it will affect the function of your nervous system.

Brain cancer treatment options depend on the type of brain tumor you have, as well as its size and location.

According to estimates from the American Cancer Society, people have less than a 1% chance of developing a malignant brain tumor in their lifetime.

Causes Of Brain Cancer

The exact cause of brain cancer is unknown. However, factors that can increase your risk of brain cancer include exposure to high doses of ionizing radiation and a family history of brain cancer.

Cancer in another part of your body is also a risk factor for brain cancer. Cancers that commonly spread, or metastasize, to the brain include:

  • Lung Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Skin Cancer

Other factors that might be related to developing brain cancer include:

  • Exposure To Radiation

People who have been exposed to a type of radiation called ionizing radiation have an increased risk of brain cancer. Examples of ionizing radiation include radiation therapy used to treat brain cancer and radiation exposure caused by atomic bombs.

  • Family History Of Brain Cancer

A small portion of brain tumors occurs in people with a family history of brain cancer or a family history of genetic syndromes that increase the risk of brain cancer.

Types of Brain Cancer

  • Astrocytomas

This is the most common CNS brain cancer, arise anywhere in the brain or spinal cord, and develop from small, star-shaped cells called astrocytes.

In adults, astrocytomas most often occur in the cerebrum, the largest part of the brain. The cerebrum uses sensory information to tell us what is going on around us and how the body should respond. The cerebrum also controls speech, movement, and emotions, as well as reading, thinking, and learning.

  • Glioblastoma Multiforme

Also is known as glioblastoma, GBM, or grade IV astrocytoma, is a fast-growing, aggressive type of CNS brain cancer that forms on the supportive tissue of the brain. Glioblastoma is the most common grade IV brain cancer

Glioblastomas may appear in any lobe of the brain, but they develop more commonly in the frontal and temporal lobes. Glioblastomas usually affect adults.

  • Meningioma

This brain cancer develops in the cells of the membrane that surround the brain and spinal cord. Meningiomas (also called meningeal tumors) account for approximately 15 percent of all intracranial tumors. Most of these tumors are benign (non-cancerous and slow-growing).

Symptoms Of Brain Cancer

The signs and symptoms of brain cancer vary greatly and depend on the brain tumor‘s size, location, and rate of growth.

General signs and symptoms caused by brain cancer may include:

  • New onset or change in the pattern of headaches
  • Headaches that gradually become more frequent and more severe
  • Unexplained nausea or vomiting
  • Vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision or loss of peripheral vision
  • The gradual loss of sensation or movement in an arm or a leg
  • Difficulty with balance or clumsiness
  • Speech difficulties
  • Dizziness 
  • Confusion in everyday matters
  • Personality or behavior changes
  • Seizures, especially in someone who doesn’t have a history of seizures
  • Hearing problems

How Is Brain Cancer Diagnosed?

If you have signs and symptoms of a brain tumor, your doctor may perform one of the following to make a diagnosis:

  • A neurological examination to determine if a tumor is affecting your brain.
  • Imaging tests, such as CT, MRI, and positron emission tomography (PET) scans, to locate the tumor.
  • A lumbar puncture, which is a procedure that collects a small sample of the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord, to check for cancer cells.
  • A brain biopsy, which is a surgical procedure in which a small amount of the tumor is removed for diagnostic testing and to determine if your tumor is malignant.Also Read: Know Foods That Lower The Risk Of Cancer

How Is Brain Cancer Treated?

There are several treatments for brain cancer. Treatment for primary brain cancer will be different than treatment for metastatic brain tumors. Treatment for metastatic cancer will be more focused on the original cancer site.

You may receive one or more treatments depending on the type, size, and location of your brain tumor. Your age and general health are also factors. Brain cancer treatments include:

  • Surgery

Surgery is the most common treatment for brain cancer. Sometimes, only part of your tumor can be removed due to its location. In some instances, a tumor is located in a sensitive or inaccessible area of your brain, and surgery to remove it can’t be performed. These kinds of tumors are referred to as inoperable.

  • Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy

You may be given chemotherapy drugs to destroy cancer cells in your brain and to shrink your tumor. Chemotherapy drugs may be given orally or intravenously. Radiation therapy may be recommended to destroy tumor tissue or cancer cells that cannot be surgically removed.

This is done with high-energy waves, such as X-rays. Sometimes, you may need to undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy at the same time. 

  • Biologic Drugs

Your doctor may prescribe biologic drugs to boost, direct, or restore your body’s natural defenses against your tumor. For example, the drug bevacizumab works to stop the growth of blood vessels that supply tumors.

  • Other Medications

Your doctor may prescribe medications to treat symptoms and side effects caused by your brain tumor and brain cancer treatments.

  • Clinical Trials

In advanced cases of brain cancer that don’t respond to treatment, clinical trial therapies and medications may be used. These are treatments that are still in the testing phase.

  • Rehabilitation

You may need to go through rehabilitation if your cancer has caused damage in your brain that affects your ability to talk, walk, or perform other normal functions. Rehabilitation includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other therapies that can help you relearn activities.


Tags: Brain tumor warning signs, Brain tumor treatment, How long before brain tumor symptoms show

Photo of author

Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.