Brain cancer can sometimes occur without much warning. It can be unknown where brain cancer comes from, but it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of brain cancer.
It’s often difficult to determine what causes brain cancer, but in this article, we will discover what some of the most recognized symptoms of brain cancer are. It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of brain cancer in order to best determine what the next options may be for treatment purposes. There are two types of brain tumors – benign tumors or malignant tumors – that nestle within the brain tissue and could lead to intracranial pressure even if they do not contain an accumulation of metastatic cancer cells. Learning how to introduce alternative brain cancer treatments can help put your symptoms to rest, regardless of the specific tumor type or cancer you are experiencing.
Signs and Symptoms
There is a range of signs and symptoms that may be linked to the development of brain cancer cells within certain individuals. Some of the most recognized symptoms of brain cancer include headaches, muscle weakness, paresthesias, issues with coordination or balance, a feeling of weakness, difficulty walking, dizziness or vertigo, and seizures. Other brain tumor symptoms include nausea and vomiting, blurry vision, change in alertness, mental capacity, memory, speech, or personality, sleepiness, hallucinations, weakness on one side of the body, coordination problems, fatigue, and a reduced sensation of touch.1,2
Seizures can be dangerous and there are different types that individuals may experience. Convulsions, also referred to as motor seizures, are when a person begins involuntarily moving their muscles. A myoclonic seizure includes one or more muscle twitches, jerks, or spasms. Tonic-Clonic seizures involve losing consciousness and control of the body, following twitching and contracting muscles. Bodily functions are also let go of during this seizure, such as bladder control. It’s possible that during a Tonic-Clonic seizure an individual will experience a 30-second period without breathing and their skin during the color of purple, blue, or white. Other seizures include sensory seizures, which are a change in sensation, vision, smell, and/or hearing but while still conscious. Complex partial seizures include a loss of awareness or loss of some form of consciousness.3
Headaches are usually one of the more common symptoms and warning signs of cancer, especially headaches that begin in the morning and that become more persistent and severe. All headaches are categorized as primary or secondary headaches.
A primary headache is not linked to other diseases. Examples of these headaches include migraine headaches, tension headaches, or other cluster headaches. Secondary headaches, however, are caused by other diseases. These associated diseases could be minor or major.1,2
Secondary headaches can range from both life-threatening conditions to those that are more common. Some examples of a life-threatening condition include malignant tumors in the brain, strokes, or meningitis, where more common conditions include headaches from caffeine withdrawal, sinus infections, or painkilling medication. Headaches may also be linked to pregnancy. There are also situations in which individuals can suffer from what is called a “mixed” headache disorder, where tension headaches or secondary headaches can trigger migraines.2
Having some of these symptoms or even a combination still does not prove that an individual has brain cancer. Cancer has the possibility to occur in various parts of the brain, such as the frontal, occipital, parietal, or temporal lobes, meningeal membranes, or brainstem. In some cases, the tumor cells can travel through blood vessels and spread to the spinal cord tissue. A primary cerebral lymphoma may occur less likely. Some brain cancers can even produce no symptoms whatsoever such as with the meningeal and pituitary gland tumors. There is potential that some people aren’t aware that they do have brain cancer until a CT scan or MRI scan is taken.2
Discovering the Early Symptoms of Brain Cancer
With the numerous amounts of brain cancer symptoms and their link to other illnesses, there are often times that people have little awareness of the fact that they do have brain cancer. To determine in entirety whether or not an individual has brain cancer, diagnostic tests must be conducted, using magnetic resonance imaging. There sometimes are early symptoms of brain cancer. An early symptom of brain cancer is when the brain tumor presses upon regions of the brain, causing intracranial pressure and results in those parts of the brain not functioning properly. The location of the tumor impacts specific symptoms such as loss of stability and overall balance as well as experiencing struggle with fine motor skills, which can be connected to a tumor in the cerebellum. If a tumor is near the frontal and temporal lobe of the cerebrum, this would impact changes in speech, hearing, memory, or even emotional state. Such emotional changes include an increase in aggressiveness and problems with the understanding of language and vocabulary. The brain tumor can also cause swelling in the brain. The early symptoms of brain cancer for primary and metastatic is similar between men, women, and children.1,3
The onset of symptoms is usually slow and also overlooked between the individual with a brain tumor and family members. It’s possible for the brain tumor symptoms to be neglected for long periods of time as well. There are some instances in which symptoms can be more evident than usual depending on the progression of the brain cancer stages and other underlying health conditions, such as if the person demonstrates a stroke. Symptoms may also be more evident if the cancer is found in a specific brain lobe that is associated with certain body functions. If someone has difficulty with speech or movements, then a cancer could be found within the parietal lobe. 1
Potential Brain Cancer Risks
It is difficult to determine where exactly brain tumors arise from. There are some potential risk factors associated with brain cancer, however, these risk factors haven’t been proven to be a direct link to brain cancer. Brain cancer is not an illness that can be predicted or prevented. While the following risk factors are not truly defined to cause brain cancer, it is possible to try avoiding them in the prevention against brain cancer.
These risk factors include exposure to radiation to the head, an HIV infection, and cigarette smoking. Additional risks include environmental risks such as chemicals used in oil refineries or rubber industry chemicals.1
Seeking Medical Attention
It may be alarming to discover symptoms that are similar to those of brain cancer. The following situations are examples in which you should seek immediate medical care: unexplained and uncontrollable nausea and vomiting, double vision or blurry vision, increased sleepiness or tiredness, new seizures, new pattern or type of headaches.1
While headaches are often associated with the more common symptom of brain cancer, they are less likely to occur until much later in the progression of brain cancer. It may still be recommended from healthcare professionals for an individual experiencing a change in headache patterns to go to the emergency room. If an individual already possesses a brain tumor and is experiencing new or worse symptoms, that person should visit the emergency room as well. Such new symptoms include seizures, change in mental status, visual changes, behavior changes, clumsiness, nausea, sudden onset of fever (more so in the form of chemotherapy treatments).1
Diagnosis of Brain Cancer
Upon review of a patient’s medical history, healthcare professionals may conduct additional tests in determining whether or not they have brain cancer and the severity. One type of brain cancer test involves a CT scan of the brain, which is similar to an X-ray in three dimensions. A dye is often injected to the bloodstream highlighting abnormalities on the scan as well.1
Routine laboratory tests may be conducted to ensure a patient is healthy throughout other regions of the body. Such tests evaluate the blood, electrolytes, liver, and blood clotting. A blood or urine test may also be performed in the case that an individual experience a major symptom as a mental change.1
The most observed method of determining a brain tumor is through an MRI scan. An MRI has greater sensitivity for determining the patterns of a brain tumor including how the brain tumor is seen throughout the rest of the brain, brain coverings, and vascular structures. Today, most hospitals are continuing to use CT scanners to observe tumors since MRI scanners are less prominent.1
If any of the test results indicate a brain tumor, the individual with the brain tumor will be referred to a neurosurgeon who will conduct the brain surgery. Any radiation or chemotherapeutic treatment for the brain tumor would require a radiation oncologist and a medical oncologist. A biopsy would be required to be conducted next in order to determine that the cancer has spread to the brain. Biopsy provides a tissue diagnosis in which the type of tumor and grade of tumor is evaluated from the sample size.1
Brain Cancer Prognosis and Treatment
If you or your loved one is faced with battling brain cancer, it is certainly a difficult experience for anyone involved. The survival rate of brain cancer ranges in regards to the type of cancer. This depends on the type of tumor and its location in the brain, and the age and overall health of the patient with brain cancer. Children with pediatric brain tumors may have a different experience than adults with brain cancer. Complete recovery is not very likely to occur, while the range of survival rate greater than five years spans between 5% to 86%. Despite the outcome, treatment is still necessary as brain cancer is an aggressive and persistent cancer that can lead to death in a shortened time span. The treatment options are available to increase survival and provide a greater quality of life to the patients.2
The Immunity Therapy Center is committed to providing safe and alternative cancer treatments for brain cancer patients without the experience of painful side effects associated with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
- Davis, Charle Patrick. Brain Cancer. EMedicineHealth.
- Davis, Charles Patrick Davis. Brain Cancer. MedicineNet.
- Cancer.Net. Brain Tumor: Grades and Prognostic Factors