Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms that a patient exhibits depend on the size and the location of the tumour. Symptoms appear with varying speeds, for example benign tumours often have a slow symptom onset while malignant tumours have a faster symptom onset. Besides the nature of the tumour, there is also the change in the nature of the neoplasm that determines how fast symptoms will be felt. Symptoms of both the types of tumours namely primary and secondary brain tumours can be classified in the following ways:

•Symptoms that result from the increased intracranial pressure (often first noticed): Large tumours have the tendency to give rise to extensive swelling (edema) which ultimately leads to intracranial pressure which results in symptoms like headaches, vomiting (with or without nausea), altered states of consciousness (somnolence, coma) dilation of the pupil on the side of the tumour (anisocoria), papilledema. Small tumours that block the path of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) also cause such symptoms. Increased intracranial pressure can lead to Herniation ie displacement of parts of the brain such as cerebellar tonsils or the temporal uncus, resulting in life threatening brain stem compression. In children, increases intracranial pressure can cause increase in the diameter of the skull and bulging of fontanelles.

Dysfunction: According to the location and the extent of spread of the tumour, there are symptoms due to damage that has been done either by compression or infiltration. Focal neurologic symptoms result from thistype of growth and include cognitive and behavioural impairment such as impaired judgment, memory loss, lack of recognition, spatial orientation disorders etc. Personality disorders that manifest in this disease are hemiparesis, hypoesthesia, aphasia, ataxia, visual field impairment, impaired sense of smell, impaired hearing, facial paralysis, double vision, and dizziness. Some of the serious symptoms include paralysis of one side of the body (hemiplegia) or loss of the ability to swallow. These symptoms are not specific to Brain tumours.
What really matters is the location of the tumour and the functional systems affected by it. A bilateral temporal visual field defect is often related with endocrine dysfunction, either hypopituitarism or hyperproduction of pituitary hormones and hyperprolactinemia is indicative of a pituitary tumour.

Irritation: There are symptoms of fatigue that is unexplained, weariness, absences and tremors but also epileptic seizures.
Benign tumours can cause a wider range of symptoms that are often mistaken for gastrointestinal disorders such as headache, vomiting or weariness.