What are the symptoms of a brain tumor?

Brain tumors may have a variety of symptoms ranging from headache to stroke. Different parts of the brain control different functions, so symptoms will vary depending on the tumor's location. Brain tumors are great mimics of other neurological disorders, and many of the common symptoms could indicate other medical conditions. The best way to determine if you or someone you know has a brain tumor is to have a doctor perform a type of brain scan called an MRI or a scan called a CT scan It is sometimes hard to know whether a CT scan or MRI should be done if someone you know has some of the symptoms and signs noted below, but it is important to know that these studies will usually establish whether a brain tumor is behind them. If you are truly concerned, be sure to discuss your concerns with a physician.
Possible symptoms of a brain tumor include:
  • A new seizure in an adult
  • Gradual loss of movement or sensation in an arm or leg
  • Unsteadiness or imbalance, especially if it is associated with headache
  • Loss of vision in one or both eyes, especially if the vision loss is more peripheral
  • Double vision, especially if it is associated with headache
  • Hearing loss with or without dizziness
  • Speech difficulty of gradual onset
Other symptoms may also include nausea or vomiting that is most severe in the morning, confusion and disorientation, and memory loss.
The following symptoms are usually not caused by a brain tumor, but may sometimes be:
  • Headache: Although headaches are probably the most common symptom of a brain tumor, most people with headaches – even persistent or severe headaches – do not have a tumor. However, some kinds of headaches are particularly worrisome. A steady headache that is worse in the morning than the afternoon, a persistent headache that is associated with nausea or vomiting, or a headache accompanied by double vision, weakness, or numbness all suggest a possible tumor.
  • A change in behavior: The development of an "I don't care" attitude, memory loss, loss of concentration, and general confusion may all be subtle signs. In this case, an evaluation by a neurologist may be an important step, but a CT or MRI will also help.
  • Infertility or abnormal cessation of menstruation (also known as amenorrhea)
  • Troubles that seem to be caused by other diseases or concerns: A seizure that results from a fall or the discovery of what appears to be a subarachnoid hemorrhage (a type of stroke) may actually be caused by tumors.
If you are concerned that you or someone you know might have a brain tumor, call your doctor. If symptoms persist, an MRI or CT scan can facilitate the diagnosis. Early detection and treatment may increase survival.

With grateful acknowledgment of the content provided by Peter McL. Black, M.D., Ph.D., Neurosurgeon-in-Chief at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Children's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.

Six Months After Enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Key Provisions of the Law Became Effective on September 23, 2010

September 23, 2010, marked six months since the Congress enacted and President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The law will not be fully implemented until 2014, but important provisions of the Affordable Care Act are effective beginning September 23, 2010, including some that offer important protections to those with brain tumors.

  • Extending coverage for young adults - The new law permits young adults up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ health plan, unless they have insurance coverage at work. This extension of coverage may provide young adults with brain tumors critical access to health insurance. This protection begins on September 23, 2010, but a number of insurers offered this protection in advance of the effective date.

  • Protecting children from pre-existing condition exclusions - Beginning on September 23, 2010, some insurance companies are prohibited from turning down a child for insurance coverage or excluding a child’s condition from a family’s insurance coverage. 

  • Protecting Americans from losing their insurance - Insurance companies will be prevented from rescinding coverage once an individual is covered under a plan. The only exceptions are in those cases where the individual committed fraud. 

  • Preventing the imposition of lifetime benefit limits - Beginning on September 23, 2010, the Affordable Care Act prevents insurers from imposing lifetime benefit limits. This protection may be especially beneficial to brain tumor patients who undergo expensive treatment that in the past would have triggered a lifetime benefit limit. Although a relatively limited number of individuals hit lifetime limits, the loss of benefits can be devastating for those who hit the limit.   

  • Enhancing protections against annual benefit limits - Annual benefit limits will be eliminated for most insurance plans by 2014, with annual spending limits increasing each year until that time. Annual limits have posed a real threat of loss of insurance coverage for brain tumor patients in any year when they undergo intensive treatment, and the incremental elimination of these limits represents an important protection for these patients.  

  • Enhancing access to preventive care - All new insurance plans are required to cover preventive care benefits without charging a deductible, co-payment, or co-insurance amount. The benefits that will be available without cost-sharing include many services that are important to brain tumor survivors as part of their follow-up and survivorship care. 

  • Protecting rights to appeal denials of care - Protections in the Affordable Care Act will govern how plans must handle the initial appeals filed by consumers when their care is denied. In addition, the law permits patients to appeal to an independent reviewer who does not work for their health plan. 

  • Pre-existing condition insurance plan - On July 1, 2010, a new insurance program went into effect for those who have been uninsured for at least six months because of a pre-existing condition. States may choose to run this insurance program themselves, or the Department of Health and Human Services will run the program in those states that choose not to run their own program.
Between 2010 and 2014, additional health care benefits will become effective, innovations in health care delivery and payment will be implemented, and steps toward the health insurance exchanges will be taken. Additional insurance reforms will become effective in 2014, including a requirement that insurers pay the routine patient care costs for those enrolled in clinical trials.

Certain plans - those that were in effect on March 23, 2010, and that remain significantly unchanged - are considered "grandfathered plans" and will not be subject to all of the insurance reforms outlined above. If you like your insurance plan and choose to keep it, you may be in a grandfathered plan.

NBTS will continue to monitor the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, its benefits for brain tumor patients, and any problems associated with its implementation.

If you have questions about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act or about finding health insurance coverage, following are several links to websites that may provide helpful information.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services has information on implementation of the Affordable Care Act and accessing insurance coverage.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has information on the implementation on the Affordable Care Act and health reform in general.

Families USA has state-by-state information on accessing health care coverage.

Symptoms of Brain Tumor

Brain tumor symptoms varies based on on the person and their specific situation. Different factors of the tumor will influence the symptoms of the brain tumors pressing on a nerve or disturbs a certain area of the brain. They also may be caused when the brain swells or fluid builds up within the skull.
The most common symptoms are:

Headaches are a general initial symptom. Typical "brain tumor headaches" are often said to be worse in the morning, with improvement gradually during the day. They may arouse the individual from sleep. Sometimes, upon awakening, the person vomits then feels better. These headaches may worsen with coughing, exercise, or with a change in position such as bending or kneeling. They also do not typically respond to the common headache remedies. 

One-third of people diagnosed with this kind of tumor are not aware they have a tumor until they have a seizure. Seizures are a regular symptom of a brain tumor. Seizures are caused by a disruption in the normal transportation of electricity in the brain. Those sudden bursts of electricity may cause convulsions, unusual sensations, and loss of consciousness. Focal seizures, such as muscle twitching or jerking of an arm or leg, abnormal smells or tastes, problems with speech or numbness and tingling, may also occur.

Mental and or Personality Changes
These can range from problems with memory (especially short-term memory), speech, communication and / or concentration changes to intense intellectual problems and confusion. Changes in behavior, temperament and personality may also occur, depending where the tumor is located. These changes can be caused by the tumor itself, by a rise in pressure within the skull caused by the presence of the tumor, or by involvement of the parts of the brain that control personality.

Focal, or Localized, Symptoms
In addition to the ordinary, but non-specific symptoms listed above, other more specific symptoms frequently occur. These "focal symptoms" can help identify the location of the tumor. Focal symptoms include: hearing problems such as ringing or buzzing sounds or hearing loss, decreased muscle control, lack of coordination, decreased sensation, weakness or paralysis, difficulty with walking or speech, balance problems, or double vision.

Nausea and Vomiting
As with headaches, these are non-specific, which means that most people who have nausea and vomiting do NOT have a tumor of the brain. Nausea and/ or vomiting is more likely to lead a brain tumor if it is accompanied by the other reactions associated with a brain tumor.

Behavioral and cognitive problems
Many persons have behavioral and cognitive changes, such as: problems with recent memory, inability to concentrate or finding the right words, acting out - no patience or tolerance, and loss of inhibitions - saying or doing things that are not appropriate for the situation.
If you find yourself developing any of these symptoms, feel free to consult your physician and explain that you feel that you are experiences symptoms related to a brain tumor. Don't be left in the dark.
Please visit these links for more information on Brain Tumor Symptom and Brain Tumor Symptoms
Source from Ian Dagenhart.