COMMON BRAIN TUMOR SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
A brain tumor is a formation of abnormal cells that can be classified as either benign or malignant (cancerous). Identifying a brain tumor early offers the best chance for successful treatment. The most common symptoms associated with brain cancer include:
- Headaches – Tumors can cause severe headaches that are often present in the morning and may become worse with activity.
- Seizures (convulsions) – This symptom includes repetitive or controlled movements, such as twitches, spasms or jerking motions, loss of consciousness, contractions, and loss of control over bodily functions.
- Memory loss, personality changes or even depression – These can also be symptoms of a brain tumor, though there are many other diseases or conditions that cause similar symptoms.
- Unexplained fatigue, nausea and vomiting.
BRAIN TUMOR LOCATION SPECIFIC SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
- Sensory changes, such as hearing or vision loss – These symptoms may manifest as the abnormal growth impinges on the areas of the brain that control these activities, such as the temporal and occipital lobes, or the brainstem.
- Facial weakness, numbness, difficulty swallowing and double vision – These symptoms could indicate a tumor on the brainstem.
- Changes in emotional state, memory or speech – These symptoms could be an indication of problems in the frontal and temporal lobe of the cerebrum. Aggressiveness, cognitive problems, and problems finding the right words may also be present. Patients with a tumor in this location may also exhibit symptoms such as muscle weakness, paralysis, lassitude, or a loss of initiative and interest in activities of past interest.
- Balance problems and problems with fine motor skills – These symptoms can result from a tumor growth in the cerebellum.
METASTATIC BRAIN CANCER SYMPTOMS (BRAIN METS)
Metastatic brain cancer is a secondary cancer that invades the brain after originating elsewhere in the body. In this case, cancer cells have escaped from a primary tumor and have reached the brain via blood vessels or the body’s lymphatic system. Symptoms for metastatic brain cancer include:
- Memory loss, poor judgment, or difficulty solving problems.
- Personality changes such as strange behavior or emotional fluctuation.
- Lethargy or a general feeling of being unwell.
- Falls and clumsiness may be noted as physical coordination starts to decline or because of muscle weakness.
- Changes in sensation, such as tingling, numbness, or pain.Other potential brain tumor symptoms include vision changes, speech difficulties, headaches, nausea, and vomiting. The symptoms of final stages of brain cancer may include increased sleep, delirium, difficulty swallowing, epilepsy, and agitation. However it is important to know that symptoms could vary greatly from case to case and that several factors influence this.
BRAIN TUMOR DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
If you suspect that you or a loved one may have a brain tumor, you should seek medical care and receive a definitive diagnosis of the disease. There are tests and exams that can be done to identify brain tumors, including a neurological exam and imaging of the brain.
One common procedure is a computerized tomography (CT) scan, which uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of brain. Other scans include MRIs or fMRIs (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), which are techniques that use a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues within the body. Your doctors may also recommend a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan that uses a radioactive substance called a tracer to help examine how organs are currently functioning.
To gain more information about what is causing symptoms, it may be necessary to perform a biopsy, in which a sample of tissue is tested to check if a tumor is benign or malignant, or a lumbar puncture, which requires fluid to be extracted from the spine for study.
Once diagnosed, one of our board-certified radiation oncologists will develop a custom-tailored plan for a non-invasive radiation therapy treatment that targets brain tumors with laser-point accuracy and sub-millimeter precision. CyberKnife treatment requires only one to five sessions, which are pain free and designed to minimize side effects. The CyberKnife System compensates for the slightest patient and tumor movements by tracking the location of the tumor with its innovative real-time imaging technology to ensure that radiation can be delivered on target of the tumor. Unlike conventional radiation treatments, the CyberKnife does not require invasive head frames or hospitalization.