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Symptoms

The symptoms of a benign (non-cancerous) brain tumour depend on its size and where it is in the brain.

Some slow-growing tumours may not cause any symptoms at first. When symptoms occur, it's because the tumour is putting pressure on the brain and preventing a specific area of the brain from working properly.

Increased pressure on the brain

Common symptoms of increased pressure within the skull include:

  • new, persistent headaches – which are sometimes worse in the morning or when bending over or coughing
  • feeling sick all the time
  • drowsiness
  • vision problems – such as blurred vision, double vision, loss of part of the visual field (hemianopia), and temporary vision loss
  • epileptic fits (seizures) – which may affect the whole body, or you may just have a twitch in one area

Location of the tumour

Different areas of the brain control different functions, so the symptoms of a brain tumour will depend on where it's located.

For example, a tumour affecting the:

  • frontal lobe – may cause changes in personality, weakness in one side of the body, and loss of smell
  • temporal lobe – may cause memory loss (amnesia) language problems (aphasia), and seizures
  • parietal lobe – may cause aphasia, numbness or weakness in one side of the body, and co-ordination problems (dyspraxia), such as difficulty dressing
  • occipital lobe – may cause loss of vision on one side of the visual field (hemianopia)
  • cerebellum – may cause balance problems (ataxia), flickering of the eyes (nystagmus), and vomiting
  • brain stem – may cause unsteadiness and difficulty walking, facial weakness, double vision, and difficulty speaking (dysarthria) and swallowing (dysphagia)

When to see a GP

It's important to see a GP if you have any symptoms.

While it's unlikely that you have a tumour, these type of symptoms need to be evaluated by a doctor so the cause can be identified.

If the GP is unable to find a more likely cause of your symptoms, they may refer you to a brain and nerve specialist called a neurologist for further assessment and tests, such as a brain scan.