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5 Signs of a Brain Tumor: When to See a Doctor

Jun 19, 2023
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5 Signs of a Brain Tumor: When to See a Doctor

It’s scary to think you may have a tumor growing on your brain, but the more you know about brain tumors, the better equipped you are to spot the signs early and get expert medical care.

If you suspect a brain tumor, Dr. Phillip Henkin at NeuroSpine Center in Tampa, Florida, can put your mind at ease. He has more than 25 years of experience in diagnosing and treating brain tumors, and when surgery is the best solution, he uses a minimally invasive technique that’s safe and effective. 

Here, he explains some crucial information about brain tumors and their symptoms, so you can stop worrying and get the help you need. 

What is a brain tumor?

A brain tumor is simply an abnormal clump of cells in or near your brain tissue. There are many types of brain tumors, but they all fall within one of two categories: primary tumors, which start in your brain, and secondary tumors, which spread to your brain from other parts of your body.

Most people hear the word “tumor” and immediately worry they may have cancer, but not all brain tumors are cancerous. Even tumors that aren’t cancerous can still cause trouble. 

In general, cancerous tumors grow and destroy tissue quickly, and noncancerous (benign) tumors grow slowly, gradually pressing on the brain tissue. 

Some brain tumors cause noticeable symptoms right away, while others can grow very large before they're detected. The tumor's location also makes a difference — if it originates in a less active part of your brain, it may not cause any symptoms at first and only be noticeable when it grows quite large.

If you're experiencing concerning symptoms, it's important to talk to Dr. Henkin so he can determine if a brain tumor or another underlying condition might be the cause. 

Different types of brain tumors

The kind of cells that clump together to form your tumor determines what type it is. Here are some examples of different types of brain tumors

  • Meningiomas: Tumors on the membranes around your brain and spinal cord
  • Neuromas: Tumors on the nerves
  • Gliomas: Tumors that mirror the glial cells, which support your brain’s nerves
  • Choroid plexus: Tumors that start in your cerebrospinal fluid
  • Pineal: Tumors on the pineal gland, which is in the middle of your brain
  • Embryonal: Tumors involving cells remnants of fetal development
  • Pituitary: Tumors on the pituitary gland

Depending on your symptoms and his assessment of your current health and medical history, Dr. Henkin may recommend a neurological exam, a head CT scan, a brain MRI, a PET scan, a biopsy, or a combination of these tests to determine whether you have a brain tumor and which type it is. 

Signs of a brain tumor

Not knowing what’s going on inside your head can be unsettling, but there are clues if you know what to look for. 

It’s a bit simplistic to narrow down a list of brain tumor symptoms because variables such as the tumor’s size, type, and location — front, middle, back, or lower region — make a big difference. However, if you experience any of these five symptoms, see Dr. Henkin.

1. Head pain

Headaches are common complaints and can point to anything from stress and lack of sleep to a nutritional deficiency, so don’t assume you have a brain tumor just because you have a headache. 

However, if your headaches are becoming more frequent and severe and you feel worse in the morning as if the pressure has built up overnight, it’s worth checking out. 

2. Seizures

Seizures occur when your brain’s electrical activity goes haywire, causing your body to malfunction. A seizure can cause a temporary lack of consciousness, limb stiffening, involuntary twitching, spasming, or convulsions.

3. Cognitive problems

It’s easy to understand that a brain tumor can cause cognitive problems. A tumor in your brain’s temporal lobe could affect your memory, speech, and musical rhythm; in your frontal lobe, it could affect your personality and moods; and a parietal lobe tumor affects your ability to identify objects. 

You may also have trouble following simple commands and feel confused. 

4. Sensory disruptions

Some brain tumors interfere with your vision and hearing. Again, depending on the tumor’s size and location, you could experience blurry vision, double vision, or temporary loss of eyesight.

5.  Spacial and coordination difficulties 

If a tumor is pressing on regions of your brain that are responsible for movement, you may see signs in how you walk and navigate your world. For example, you could lose your sense of balance, have numbness in your limbs, or feel dizzy. 

When to see a doctor

Although these symptoms may point to a brain tumor, they aren’t conclusive — come see Dr. Henkin and get an expert diagnosis. To schedule an appointment, call our friendly staff or use our online booking feature.