Symptoms of a brain tumour based on location in the brain
Symptoms of a brain tumour can vary depending on the brain tumour’s location. Below, we’ll mention some of the symptoms that can begin based on where the tumour is in the brain.
The human brain is divided into two halves called the right and left hemispheres. The brain can also be divided into four areas known as lobes (frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital) plus two other important areas called the brain stem and the cerebellum.
The presence of a brain tumour can cause damage to healthy brain tissue, disrupting the normal function of that area.
Remember that many of the symptoms due to raised intracranial pressure (ICP) can be caused by other medical conditions. So if you are experiencing these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean you have a brain tumour.
Symptoms of a brain tumour based on location
When the location of the brain tumour is the frontal lobe it may cause difficulty with:
- concentrating or focusing your attention on something
- communicating or using language
- controlling emotions and behaviour
- executive functions (making decisions, solving problems, planning and organising)
- learning and remembering new information
- lack of inhibition (making inappropriate comments during conversation or laughing in inappropriate situations)
- social cognition, impulse control and sexual behaviour
- weakness on the opposite side of the body from the tumour
- loss of smell.
When the location of the brain tumour is the temporal lobe it may cause difficulty with:
- identifying and categorising objects
- learning new information
- correctly recognising emotions in others
- memory loss
- seizures or blackouts
- sensations of strange smells.
When the location of the brain tumour is the parietal lobe it may cause difficulty with:
- bringing together information from your different senses (touch, vision, hearing, smell, taste) and making sense of it
- recognising faces or objects
- co-ordinating movements
- spatial awareness (judging distances and hand-eye co-ordination)
- speaking, understanding words, writing and reading
- numbness on the opposite side of the body from the tumour.
When the location of the brain tumour is the occipital lobe it may cause:
- difficulty with vision e.g. identifying objects or colours
- loss of vision on one side.
When the brain tumour location is the cerebellum it may cause:
- difficulty with balance
- loss of co-ordination
- difficulty walking and speaking
- difficulty using executive functions (making decisions, solving problems, planning and organising)
- flickering of the eyes
- stiff neck
- problems with dexterity (skills in using your hands).
A tumour located in the brain stem may cause:
- unsteadiness and difficulty walking
- facial weakness
- double vision
- difficulty speaking and swallowing.
- Track your symptoms through BRIAN‘s quality of life tracker, noting when they are worse or better, any patterns that you see or any changes
- People often experience more than one symptom before a diagnosis, so make sure you understand what other symptoms a brain tumour can cause
- Book an appointment with your GP or optician for a check up, and keep a note of any questions that you want to ask
- Take a look at our page about talking to your doctor for some ideas of what to ask and what to expect.
- Do you think I could have a brain tumour based on my symptoms?
- What else could be causing my symptoms (changes in lifestyle, other medical conditions, etc)?
- How can I manage the symptoms I am experiencing?
- Do I need to be referred to see somebody else about my concerns?
- If I need to make another appointment, when should this be made for? Who should I talk to?
I think I have a brain tumour, what should I do?
Brain tumours are rare, however, if you’re worried and a symptom persists or if you have more than one symptom of a brain tumour then:
- Talk to your doctor
GP appointments are usually quite short, so make sure you find out how to best prepare for your appointment.
- Get an eye test
If your symptoms are limited to changes in vision and/or headaches, get your eyes tested by an optician before seeing your GP.
- Go to A&E
If the symptoms are sudden or severe, you should go to your emergency department or call 999.
Find out more about the symptoms of a brain tumour in adults in the full fact sheet.
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If you need someone to talk to or advice on where to get help, our Support and Information team is available by phone, email or live-chat.
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