If your doctor tells you that you have a brain tumor, you might feel it’s coming out of left field. Then you might wonder if you should have noticed the warning signs earlier.
Not all tumors are cancerous (malignant), and many can be treated effectively. But there are early warning signs of a tumor. If you learn to recognize them, you can seek medical attention more quickly.
Our expert team of neurosurgeons at Polaris Spine & Neurosurgery Center knows that the earlier your brain tumor is diagnosed, the more effective the treatments will be and the greater the chance you’ll recover.
That’s why they’ve put together this guide about the symptoms of a brain tumor. Here’s what you need to know.
The National Cancer Institute, describes a tumor as “an abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should.”
In a healthy body, cells grow, divide, and die, replaced by new ones that form in response to the need for fresh cells in an organ or system. Cancer, though, pumps out new cells all the time, even when they’re not needed. Too many in one location collect into a mass, forming a tumor.
There are three main types of tumors:
Benign tumors are noncancerous, because they’re usually unable to grow or grow only very slowly. Those that do grow large aren’t able to spread (metastasize) into nearby tissues or other regions of the body. And once you remove the mass, it usually doesn’t return.
Premalignant tumors also aren’t cancerous, but the cells, if triggered, have the potential to become so. Your doctor may want to monitor the mass to see what happens, or he may remove it just to be safe.
Malignant tumors are definitely cancerous, and their cells are able to grow and invade surrounding tissues, crowding out normal cells. They can also spread through your bloodstream and the lymphatic system to other areas of your body.
You’ll have to undergo treatment (e.g., chemotherapy, radiation, surgery) to remove, or at least shrink, the mass.
Brain tumors produce both physical and mental symptoms, which vary depending on the tumor’s type, location, and stage of development, but don’t vary depending on whether the tumor is benign or malignant.
A primary tumor is one that forms from the cells in the brain. A secondary tumor, also known as a metastatic tumor, is one that originated elsewhere in the body and moves to the brain.
About a third of primary brain tumors are meningiomas. They grow from the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord and produce pressure on the brain area where they develop. They’re most common in women over 60, and they’re usually slow-growing and benign.
Meningioma symptoms include:
Glioblastomas are another type of primary brain tumor, but these are malignant, growing quickly and requiring more intensive treatment than meningiomas.
Glioblastomas create pressure on the brain, with symptoms that include:
Metastatic brain tumors display the same symptoms that primary tumors do, including:
The tumors may also cause symptoms in the area in which they originated.
If you notice any of the characteristic signs of a brain tumor, come into Polaris Spine & Neurosurgery Center for an evaluation and treatment. We have locations in Sandy Springs, College Park, and Bethlehem, Georgia.