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Brain Tumor: 10 Warning Signs and Symptoms, Types

What is a Tumor?

Tumor basically is a cluster of cells formed because of some malfunction in cell division. Tumors don’t always have to be dangerous. People often confuse ‘tumor’ with ‘cancer’ which is not appropriate. Now, tumors can be cancerous as well as non-cancerous. When a tumor is present in brain or spinal cord it’s called a brain tumor. Brain tumor can be malignant or benign i.e. cancerous or non-cancerous.

Malignant brain tumor:

This is extremely dangerous. The cells are cancerous and multiply uncontrollably if not treated. They do not have set limits and they spread to other parts of the brain by growing rapidly.

Benign brain tumor:

This is relatively less aggressive. The abnormal cells do not contain cancerous cells . They grow very slowly and rarely invade other parts of the brain. In spite of not being cancerous, benign tumors can press sensitive tissues of brain and cause serious tissue damage.

World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified over 120 types of brain tumor. Every year there is a rise in brain tumor cases. It is really important now more than ever to be informed and ready.

Types of Brain Tumor:

There are two types of brain tumor:

1. Primary tumor:

If the tumor originates in the brain itself it is called primary tumor.

 2. Secondary tumor:

If the tumor originates somewhere else in the body and then spreads to brain it is called secondary tumor.

10 Warning Signs and Symptoms of Brain Tumor:

Symptoms may vary according to the shape, type, size and location of the tumor in brain. Different parts of the brain perform different functions. Depending on where the tumor presses, different symptoms manifest. Symptoms also manifest when cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that flows through and around the brain) gets blocked. Sometimes fluid builds up and causes swelling in the brain. There are some common symptoms that are usually observed in patients of brain tumor. Manifestation of symptoms can be in any order or may not occur at all before the tumor is diagnosed. Some of the common symptoms are:

1. Headaches

They are not usually the first symptom to occur. In fact headaches are prominent only when the tumor is big enough to cause one. This happens when a tumor is large enough to press on nerves and vessels. Even intense headaches don’t indicate brain tumor unless they are concomitant with other signs and symptoms of brain tumor. However, if there is a new onset or change in pattern of headaches if a person already suffers from frequent headaches, it might be a good reason to go see a doctor. Headaches worsen as the time passes.

2. Nausea or vomiting

Lack of appetite or feeling queasy every time one eats, can be a symptom. If this feeling persists along with other symptoms without any explanation, it could be a sign of brain tumor and must get checked.

3. Vision problems

Blurred or double vision could be caused if there is a tumor on or near the optical nerve. People suffer vision difficulties such as visual loss, or identifying objects or colors if the tumor is in the occipital lobe. A tumor in parietal lobe can symptomatic with loss in spatial awareness e.g. judging distances, hand-eye co-ordination. Swelling of the optic nerves can be visible during an eye test,and can indicate that a brain tumor is present.

4. Gradual numbness or loss of movement

People may complain about clumsy movements losing feeling in a part of body or face. This happens if a tumor forms on the brain stem. Damage to parietal lobe can also cause numbness or weakness on the opposite side of the body from where the tumor is.

5. Difficulty in balancing and coordination

A tumor in cerebellum can cause problems with balance while walking, a loss of co-ordination. It can also affect the fine co-ordination of the muscles leading to problems with hand-eye coordination.

A tumor in the parietal lobe is symptomatic with not being able to bring together information from the different senses (touch, vision, hearing, smell, taste) and making sense of it and co-ordinating movements. e,g., bumping into furniture or people while walking.

6. Speech and hearing difficulties

The frontal lobe has a function in language production and the temporal lobe in understanding language. If the tumor is in one of these lobes, pressure from the tumor may have an effect on hearing and speech skills. Tumors in Brain stem cause facial weakness and difficulty speaking or swallowing.

Speech and hearing difficulties include:

  • Language impairment (also known as ‘dysphasia’)
  • Speech difficulties
  • Forgetting words
  • Losing the thread of a conversation
  • Not knowing when to talk and when to listen during a conversation

7. Short and long term memory loss

Larger meningiomas can block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, resulting in hydrocephalus (water on the brain) which can gait and memory. A tumor in the temporal lobe can affect the memory and learning. People with tumors are more likely to have issues remembering everyday things, to feel confused, or to suffer  thinking problems. There is difficulty in remembering and learning new things.

8. Personality, mood or behavior changes

Most people have tremendous changes in their behavior. This may happen due to the position of the tumor, fear of death or due to medication. Difficulties in controlling emotions lead to rapid mood changes. Fear causes the person to make decisions that appear spontaneous or out of character. Depression or anxiety can also be seen in some patients. Due to cognitive problems, some patients might not understand social situations and behave inappropriately or know when to talk and how to respond in an appropriate way. They are not aware of the inappropriate behavior.

9. Seizures, twitching and convulsions

Seizures are the most common first (onset) symptom leading to a brain tumor diagnosis in adults. Up to 60% of brain tumor patients experience at least one seizureSeizures can range from feeling a bit strange or absent (spaced out), to twitching in extremities and limbs, to the convulsive seizures sometimes referred to as fits, this is where the person might lose consciousness, their body going stiff with their jerking limbs. Convulsive seizures or Tonic-clonic seizures are rare in brain tumor patients.

10. Concentration and attention problems

These symptoms include : Being easily distracted, finding it difficult to focus on a task and to finish it, losing the thread of conversations, not being able to concentrate on more than one thing, such as when in a crowd, or several people are speaking at once. Basically attention span is decreased. In some cases reaction times may become slower.

Brain tumor doesn’t come knocking. In fact, it comes bashing and breaking the door. The best way to prevent brain tumor is healthy diet and regular exercise. One should also have frequent body check-ups. If there is a manifestation of the above symptoms one must get checked. You can go through the diagnosis and treatment of brain tumor.

Harshita Daryani

Still a student not only because life never stops teaching but also because the post-graduation is longer than she likes it to be. Reads fantasy, young-adult fiction, high fantasy, among other genres. Has great ambitions but little motivation. Firm believer of nothing in particular. Not fickle, just tends to change opinions if she learns something new about it. Loves House, Chandler, Stand-up, Harry Potter, T-shirts with funny quotes, etc.

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