Brain Tumor Early Symptoms

The devastating diagnosis of a brain tumor can terrify the most courageous individuals. But knowing the symptoms can alter the course of events with an early diagnosis. The Mayo Clinic's symptom list includes headaches, vision disturbances, seizures, weakness, mobility changes, and speech impairment. With a slow growing tumor the symptoms may develop slowly and go unnoticed or are associated with other ailments. A gradual decline in health status may be the only complaint prompting a doctor's visit.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


Headaches may be the initial symptom that something is wrong. The brain, with its delicate tissue, is enclosed within a rigid skull for protection and has little room for expansion. Headaches may reflect increasing pressure as the tumor grows according to Rush University Medical Center 1. The new onset of headaches, in a headache free patient, may warrant a physician call or visit to assess the onset, frequency, intensity, and location of the pain. Headaches may feel worse upon arising and diminish during the day.


Difficulty walking may be an initial symptom as a result of pressure in the brain. Stumbling, staggering, limping, and falls may also be symptomatic. A lack of coordination in performing a familiar task may prompt a physician call or visit. These symptoms may occur gradually and go unheeded for a period of time or occur suddenly depending on the type, size, growth rate and location of the tumor, according to the Mayo Clinic.


The beginning of seizures in an otherwise seizure free patient may be symptomatic of a developing brain tumor. According to Rush University Medical Center, a seizure may be the result of increased pressure from the tumor or fluid on the brain 1. The pressure may disrupt appropriate nerve impulses to and from the brain. Nerve impulses, like an electrical stimulus, are necessary for all body activities and functions and when disrupted cause symptoms of illness.

Vision Disturbances

Blurring and double vision may reflect increasing pressure in the brain. A sudden loss in vision, diminished or absent side-to-side or peripheral vision, and unusual eye movements may also be symptomatic. The pupil of the eyes, the black dot at the center of the colored portion, responds to light and dark by contracting or expanding respectively. This response may be altered or absent, according to the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh.

Weakness or Numbness

The inability to perform activities of daily living as a result of weakness in an extremity may be symptomatic of a brain tumor. According to The University of Pittsburgh, the numbness or tingling sensation may be one-sided or may involve just the upper or lower extremities. The symptoms of weakness and numbness may also include overwhelming fatigue and require assessment by a physician to differentiate from a stroke.

Speech Impairment

The development of problems with speech including slurring, faltering, and stammering may be symptoms of a brain tumor. The symptoms may reflect the area of the brain affected. These symptoms may also mimic the symptoms of a stroke and require evaluation by a physician, according to The University of Pittsburgh.