The symptoms of both primary and metastatic brain tumors depend mainly on the location in the brain and the size of the tumor. Since each area of the brain is responsible for specific functions, the symptoms will vary a great deal.
Tumors in the frontal lobe of the brain may cause weakness and inability to move on one side of the body, known as paralysis, mood disturbances, difficulty thinking, confusion and disorientation, and wide emotional mood swings.
Parietal lobe tumors may cause seizures, numbness or paralysis, difficulty with handwriting, inability to perform simple mathematical problems, difficulty with certain movements, and loss of the sense of touch.
Tumors in the occipital lobe can cause loss of vision in half of each visual field, visual hallucinations and seizures.
Temporal lobe tumors can cause seizures, perceptual and spatial disturbances, and inability to understand simple to multi–step commands, known as receptive aphasia.
If a tumor occurs in the cerebellum, the person may have difficulty maintaining balance, known as ataxia, loss of coordination, headaches, and vomiting. Tumors in the hypothalamus may cause emotional changes, and changes in the perception of hot and cold. In addition, hypothalamic tumors may affect growth and nutrition in children. With the exception of the cerebellum, a tumor on one side of the brain causes symptoms and impairment on the opposite side of the body. For example, a tumor on the left side of the brain may cause numbness in the right arm.
As a brain tumor grows, it invades the healthy tissue in the brain, often causing further deterioration. Because of the limited space within the skull, the tumor may place pressure on the brain. There may also be a buildup of fluid around the tumor, a condition known as edema. Both of these may cause frequent headaches that are often unrelieved by over–the–counter medications. Headaches are the most common presenting symptom for patients with brain tumors.
Since all of these symptoms can be caused by other problems, you must be seen by a physician to have your symptoms properly evaluated. Your physician may refer you to a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the brain and central nervous system, or to an oncologist, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancer.