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What Are The Most Common Brain Tumour Symptoms To Look For?

Detecting a tumour as early as possible can have a huge impact on the success of treatment and the overall long-term prognosis of the patient. Therefore, it is important to know what symptoms to look out for so you can go to your doctor at the first sign of concern.      When it comes to brain tumours, many of the signs can be misdiagnosed for being symptomatic of something else. However, keeping track of what difficulties you are having can help experts determine whether they seem to be worsening, and if there is a connection between the symptoms.  Here are the most common signs of a brain tumour that should be flagged up with a cancer doctor, so you know whether to rule out a diagnosis or not.   


Everyone gets headaches from time to time, whether they are from dehydration, feeling tense or due to hormones. However, just 40 per cent suffer from such severe pain that it is considered a headache disorder, affecting their quality of life, employment and mental health.  If you start experiencing headaches that are much worse than ever before, and have not been diagnosed with a headache disorder, it is worth bringing this up with your doctor.  They are typically worse in the morning and can get worse over several days. They are described as being severe and anything that puts pressure on your head, such as coughing or bending down, can lead to stabbing pains.  A one-off occurrence might not be anything to worry about, but if these are happening more frequently, they could be a sign of a tumour.   

Vision changes

A lot of people who are diagnosed with brain tumours complain of changes in their vision. They may experience blurring or see things in double.  Alternatively, they may lose their peripheral vision or have blind spots; they might have flashing lights appear in their eyesight; or they could experience flickering eyes without being able to control it.  Other changes to their vision include suddenly starting to squint, problems when looking upwards, brief loss of their vision, and their eyeballs might start to bulge forwards, which is a sign that a tumour in the brain is expanding.  As eyesight deterioration is a common sign of a brain tumour, they are often picked up by optometrists when getting a vision check. They then refer the patient to hospital for a closer look, with a scan determining whether the changes are caused by a brain tumour. Opticians can also see if there is a swelling of the optic disc or pressure on the optic nerve, which is why it is a good idea to have an eyesight examination every couple of years.     

Cognitive changes

Many people first come to see a cancer specialist because their friends or family report them acting confused or forgetting things.  Brain tumours can cause many cognitive changes in a patient, including memory loss, difficulty concentrating, a decline in mental ability, and even changes in personality.  Patients might not realise these changes are occurring, as they can be subtle at first.  

Mobility problems

Lots of people who suddenly experience weakness in their limbs might put this down to something else, but it can be a sign of a brain tumour.  Other mobility problems include numbness, problems writing, a lack of spatial awareness, and a difficulty with balance or tremors. This often indicates there is a tumour in the cerebellum, which controls movement in the body.  Some patients might present with speech problems, such as slurring words or finding it hard to speak. They may also simply find it difficult to find the right word to say, which could be due to a tumour on the brain stem, which controls basic bodily functions like speech.   


A more alarming symptom of a brain tumour is having seizures. If the patient does not have a history of fits and they begin to occur without a known reason, this is cause for alarm.  These acts of fitting, or even fainting, could be a sign there is a tumour in the frontal lobe or temporal lobe.  As seizures themselves are a significant health risk, anyone experiencing them should seek medical help and pursue an explanation for their sudden onset of fits.   


Another symptom that could go under the radar is feeling nauseous or vomiting. While this can often be overlooked as stomach flu, hormonal changes, food poisoning, severe headaches, motion sickness, food allergies, pregnancy, and even stress, it can also be a sign of a brain tumour.  This is due to there being increased pressure inside the skull, which can cause the patient to experience regular, and otherwise unexplained, sickness.  

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