Brain Cancer: Symptoms

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 28 April 2021

Brain Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms aren’t always present in brain tumours. Your doctor may not even detect any (such as pituitary tumours) until they do an imaging test such as a CT scan or an MRI for another reason.

Brain cancer has a wide range of symptoms. However, some of them are brought about by other illnesses. Testing is the best way to determine for sure what is causing your symptoms.

Symptoms may be caused by:

  • A tumour pressing against or encroaching on other areas of the brain, preventing them from functioning properly.
  • Swelling in the brain triggered by the tumour or the inflammation that surrounds it.

The symptoms of primary and metastatic brain cancers are somewhat similar. The following are the most typical:

  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Clumsiness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Seizures

Symptoms that are less precise include:

  • Changes in concentration, memory, attention, or alertness
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Vision problems
  • Speech difficulties
  • Changes in intellectual capacity or emotional response over time

Symptoms may appear so slowly that you and your family could overlook them. They could also appear so suddenly and make you think you or your loved one is having a stroke.

When to Seek Help

If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Consistent, unexplained vomiting
  • Double vision or blurry vision that unexplained, particularly on one side
  • Increased sleepiness or lethargy
  • New seizures
  • Headaches in a certain pattern or type

Headaches are believed to be a common symptom of brain cancer, although they do not appear until after the condition has progressed for some time. Your doctor may recommend that you go to the hospital if you find any major changes in your headache pattern.

If you have a brain tumour, some new symptoms, or a drastic deterioration of symptoms requires a visit to the nearest medical emergency department. Keep an eye out for the following new symptoms:

  • Seizures
  • Excessive sleepiness, memory problems, or failure to focus are all signs of a change in mental state.
  • Changes in vision or other visual problems
  • Have difficulty speaking or expressing yourself
  • Behavioral or personality changes
  • Walking difficulties or clumsiness
  • Nausea or vomiting that lasts for a long time (especially in middle-aged or older people)
  • Fever that appears suddenly, particularly after chemotherapy


Referenced on 26.4.2021

  1. eMedicineHealth: “Brain Cancer Symptoms.”
  2. Adult brain tumors. (n.d.)
  3. Brain tumor information. (n.d.)
  4. Carcinogen list. (2012, May 2) Retrieved from
  5. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015, October 2). Brain Tumor. Retrieved. From

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