Do you know that you can have a brain tumor and the only thing you suffer from is just a headache? Dr. Len Cerullo, CINN Medical Director, and Neurosurgeon discusses the most common signs and symptoms of brain tumors which are as variable as the parts of the brain where tumors may present.
The real question is how do you know you have a brain tumor. That’s a good question. Most people would say, Well, I had headaches. Well, it’s very unusual not impossible, but it’s not usual for brain tumor patients to present with headaches. Symptoms of Brain Tumors may be misleading.
Symptoms of Brain Tumors
You only time they do is if the tumor bleeds into itself, causing a sudden increase of the volume of the type within the head or if there’s a lot of swelling around the tumor or if cancer obstructs the spinal fluid drainage system, causing and build up fluid or hydrocephalus.
So those are the situations in which people with brain tumors present with heading and the headaches are unique because they usually occur at night when you’re sleeping when you’re lying down.
That’s when the pressure begins at night so that people will report that the hitting awakens them from sleep the headache is usually associated with nausea, vomiting, sometimes double vision.
So these headaches and not your typical my pain in the back of the head. I get it every day, and it’s worse, you know, so on and so on. It’s a particular type of a headache that you get with brain tumors other tumors have no presenting symptoms whatsoever. And these are the ones that I consider to be pretty interesting because they bring up a real dilemma and ethical dilemma and a medical dilemma, how do you treat a tumor, which was not found because you were looking for cancer was fun because you had a scan because you hit your head.
You had a concussion. You were in an automobile accident, or perhaps you got to scan because you have a movement disorder like Parkinson’s disease or you’ve got a scan for some other unrelated reason you have breast cancer. And you heard that sometimes breast cancer goes to the brain. So you talk to your doctor into doing a brain scan and indeed. There’s your brain tumor. These are called incidentally discovered tumors.
And then, of course, you have to figure out okay now what kind of tumor is it where is it. What can I do about it doesn’t have to be treated are going to be watched? And many of these incidentally found tumors don’t really need to be addressed. They need to be observed. And if there’s growth, Then they need to be treated. If there’s no growth than the same as they were there before they can stay there forever.
And it’s that type of tumor that I think is really interesting because it forces you to really be logical about the decision-making process as opposed to the knee-jerk reaction. It’s a big malignant tumor. It’s got to be treated; these tumors are not usually big. They’re not easily malignant, and they may or may not need to be addressed then the rest of the tumors present with seizures and there are all different kinds of seizures, depending on where the cancer is there can be visual seizures.
If the tumors in the back of the head. It can be motor seizures. If the tumors in the side of the head. It can be speech-type seizures. If the cancer is in the dominant hemisphere in the speech area, etc., etc. And then they’re all variations of complex partial seizures. If it’s in the temporal lobe and these have all sorts of bizarre manifestations. Some people will present with abdominal pain. It’s coming down with epilepsy. So people with abdominal pain might not have an LC, and they might have a brain tumor.
You can present with the Petit mal type of epilepsy, where you just kind of stare into space for a few seconds recover your activities and so on and so on. This may denote symptoms of brain tumors of course.
And finally, procedures can present within a real honest-to-neurological deficit numbness of one side of the body paralysis of one side of the body, loss of vision and on visual field double vision a variety of different symptoms like that. So to recap tumors present with no symptoms and it’s incidental neurological deficits seizures, and headaches caused by increased intracranial pressure and increased pressure within the head.