Symptoms of Brain Cancer

Most brain cancers are highly invasive. As a brain cancer spreads, it puts pressure on different areas of the brain and invades healthy tissue, disrupting the normal function of the brain and causing a wide variety of signs and symptoms. The effects from a brain cancer depend on the location in the brain where it occurs.

The brain has three major parts:

The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain; it is at the top of the head and is divided into four lobes. The cerebrum handles higher functions like memory, problem solving, thinking, and feeling. It also controls movement.

The cerebellum is in the lower back of the brain (near the middle of the back of the head). It controls coordinated movements, balance, and posture.

The brain stem connects the brain to the spinal cord. It is the highway that connects the brain to the rest of the body .  The brain stem also controls many automatic functions such as breathing, heart rate, digestion, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Depending on where the tumor is located, common symptoms of brain cancer are:

  • Behavior and mood changes
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Dizziness and balance problems
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Eye problems, such as double or blurry vision, or uncontrolled eye movements
  • Headache or feeling of pressure in the head
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Short-term memory difficulty


Many of these symptoms are due to increased pressure in the brain, which can be caused by other medical conditions that are not brain tumors. Still, any of these symptoms should prompt consultation with a physician.

Reviewed by: Rohan Ramakrishna, MD
Last reviewed/last updated: December 2020

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