Symptoms produced by brain tumors depend on their location, size, rate of growth and stage. Some nonmalignant brain tumors that grow slowly can become quite large before producing symptoms because there often is no swelling of the brain tissues. However, if because of their size or location, they cannot be easily removed, they can be as life threatening as malignant brain tumors.
Persons who have symptoms that do not go away should see their doctor immediately. In general, brain cancer symptoms include:
- Abnormal pulse and breathing rates can also occur
- Deep, dull headaches that recur often and persist without relief for long periods of time
- Difficulty walking or speaking
- Eyesight problems, including double vision
At the late stages of the disorder, dramatic changes in blood pressure may occur. Seizures are a common symptom of benign brain tumors and slow-growing cancers. Tumors can cause a part of the body to weaken or feel paralyzed. Hearing, sight and the sense of smell can be affected. Persons who display personality changes and are prone to confusion and unable to think clearly require immediate medical attention.
There are many different types of brain tumors, some of which can have several names. Even neuropathologists, who diagnose these brain tumors, are sometimes inconsistent in what they call them. Some of the most common types are:
- Acoustic neuroma
- Choroid plexus papilloma
- Glioblastoma multiforme
- Mixed, optic nerve and brain stem gliomas
- Pineal tumors
- Pituitary adenomas
- Primitive neuroectodermal tumors
- Vascular tumors
Causes and Risk Factors
Risk factors include exposure for long periods to ionizing radiation or to chemicals, such as vinyl chlorides, aromatic hydrocarbons, triazenes and N-nitroso compound. Generally, exposure occurs at the place of work. Genetically inherited diseases, such as tuberous sclerosis and von Hippel-Lindau disease, may make a person susceptible to brain tumors. Three out of five people who suffer from brain tumors are male. Brain tumors are most common in early or middle adult life, but they can appear at any age.