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Early Signs and Symptoms of Brain Cancer

written by: Vasanth • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 4/5/2011

Cancer that affects the brain has noticeable symptoms. Some of the early symptoms of brain cancer include increased number of headaches, nausea, vomiting and vision problems. Additional symptoms of brain tumors include speech difficulties, confusion and changes in personality or behavior.

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    What is Brain Cancer?

    Brain cancer is an abnormal growth, or tumor, that develops in the brain. A tumor that originates in the brain is known as primary brain cancer. When cancer cells from another part of the body travel through the bloodstream to the brain, the disease is called metastatic brain cancer. The tumor can be benign or malignant. A staging scale is used to evaluate the tumor.

    • Grade 1 - The cells of the tumor appear normal, but grow slowly. It is benign.
    • Grade 2 - The cells appear less normal, and the tissue is malignant.
    • Grade 3 - The malignant cells are easily identified, and they are growing.
    • Grade 4 - The tissue is vastly different from normal brain tissue, and the cells are multiplying quickly.

    Brain cancer affects areas of the brain that are responsible for sensation, muscle control, vision, memory and other vital functions. Even the early stages of brain cancer can produce noticeable symptoms. Some of the early symptoms of brain cancer include headaches, vision problems, reduced sensation and confusion.

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    Headaches

    One of the early symptoms of brain cancer is headaches. Usually, the number of headaches increases and the pattern of headaches changes. The intensity of the headaches also increases. This is just an indication that something might be wrong, and may not necessarily be caused by brain cancer.

    Another symptom of brain cancer is nausea and vomiting. Usually, the cause is unknown, but it may occur after severe headaches. If it occurs more frequently, and in conjunction with severe headaches, you should contact your doctor.

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    Vision Problems

    The most common vision problem associated with brain cancer is blurred vision. This can severely affect an individual. Another vision problem that may indicate the presence of brain cancer is double vision. Also, tunnel vision, or the loss of peripheral vision, may arise as a result of a tumor in the brain.

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    Reduced Sensation

    As the tumor presses against the brain, its ability to control sensation may be affected. This usually leads to the loss of sensation in the arms or legs. As a result, the ability to move the extremity may be limited. A related symptom is the inability to maintain balance. This may not be an immediate symptom, but it may arise suddenly.

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    Confusion

    Confusion is another symptom of brain cancer. The tumor may disrupt ones ability to think and speak clearly. Usually, every day activities that one normally does may become difficult, and the ability to communicate effectively may be diminished.

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    More Symptoms of Brain Cancer

    As the tumor progresses, these symptoms generally become more pronounced. This produces additional symptoms including personality and behavior changes. A person's memory may be affected and seizures may occur.

    Since a tumor can form in any part of the brain, the symptoms are varied. Some types of brain cancer don't produce symptoms, so diagnostic tests are required to confirm the presence of a tumor.

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    References

    1. "Brain Cancer." MedicineNet. http://www.medicinenet.com/brain_cancer/article.htm

    2. "Brain Tumor Symptoms." Mayo Clinic. http://www.medicinenet.com/brain_cancer/article.htm

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