Tumor cells grow, even though the body does not need them, and unlike normal cells, they don’t die. As this process goes on, the tumor continues to grow as more and more cells are added to the mass.
Symptoms of brain tumors vary according to the type of tumor and the location. Because different areas of the brain control different functions of the body, the location of the tumor affects the way symptoms appear.
Some tumors have no symptoms until they are quite large and then cause a serious, rapid decline in health. Other tumors may have symptoms that develop slowly. A common initial symptom of a brain tumor is headache. Often, they don’t respond to the usual headache remedies. Keep in mind that most headaches are unrelated to brain tumors.
Other symptoms include:
It’s important to keep in mind that these symptoms can be caused by a number of different conditions. Don’t assume you have a brain tumor just because you experience some of them. Check with your doctor.
To diagnose a brain tumor, the doctor starts by asking questions about your symptoms and taking a personal and family health history. Then he or she performs a physical exam, including a neurological exam. If there’s reason to suspect a brain tumor, the doctor may request one or more of the following tests:
The doctor may also ask for a biopsy to determine whether or not the tumor is cancer. A tissue sample is removed from the brain either during surgery to remove the tumor or with a needle inserted through a small hole drilled into the skull before treatment is started. The sample is then sent to a lab for testing. (Source: WebMD)
Benign brain tumors are noncancerous. Malignant primary brain tumors are cancers that originate in the brain. They typically grow faster than benign tumors, and aggressively invade surrounding tissue. Although brain cancer rarely spreads to other organs, it can spread to other parts of the brain and central nervous system.
The following questions provide a starting point for what you may want to ask your physician.