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But rarely, these symptoms can signal a bigger problem.
Unfortunately, the warning signs of a brain tumor can be as diverse as the brain’s endless list of responsibilities. “There is no specific sign for a brain tumor,” says neurosurgeon Gene Barnett, MD. “A brain tumor can present with many different signs and symptoms, depending on where it is located.”
With more than 120 types of brain tumors, symptoms run the gamut from none at all to major red flags. Ultimately, how your body sounds the alarm depends on:
But to know when a symptom really spells trouble, you need to know your own body. Changes in your health can be just as telling as the symptom itself.
If you experience one or several of these signs, Dr. Barnett recommends seeing a medical professional:
Here’s a surprising fact: The most common brain tumors don’t actually start in your brain. Brain metastases, or metastatic brain tumors, spread to your brain from other parts of your body — most often from your lungs, breasts, skin, kidneys or colon.
“A person with a known history of these cancers who develops any of these neurological symptoms should be evaluated,” Dr. Barnett says.
If you’re diagnosed with a brain tumor, Dr. Barnett says you’ll get the best care at a brain tumor center of excellence.
“These centers specialize in multidisciplinary treatment for brain tumors,” he explains. “You have neurosurgeons who treat patients with brain tumors every day of the week. You also have radiation oncologists and neuro-oncologists or medical oncologists who primarily treat patients with brain tumors.”
These centers usually offer opportunities to participate in clinical trials, too. So if a tumor has limited treatment options, a brain tumor center can give you access to promising new drugs or immunotherapies that may effectively treat it.