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Signs You May Have a Brain Tumor, According to Doctors

Is it a headache...or something worse?
Last year, Tom Parker, the British singer best known for the boy band The Wanted, was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma, an inoperable brain tumor. He's only 32. "We are all absolutely devastated but we are gonna fight this all the way," he wrote on Instagram. "We don't want your sadness, we just want love and positivity and together we will raise awareness of this terrible disease and look for all available treatment options. It's gonna be a tough battle but with everyone's love and support we are going to beat this." There are warning signs of brain tumors; read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these 19 Ways You're Ruining Your Body, Say Health Experts.

A Different Kind of a Headache

looking at laptop feeling headache tired of study learning overwork

Many of us get headaches, sometimes often. But how do you know when a headache is suspicious and might be cancer? 

"Changes in frequency, type or intensity of headache should prompt neurological evaluation," says Santosh Kesari, MD, Ph.D., neuro-oncologist at the Saint John's Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California. 


The Worst Headache of Your Life

Man With A Headache

It might qualify as the "worst headache of your life," or if you get migraines, this headache might be longer lasting, says Joshua Mansour, MD, a triple-board-certified oncologist in Los Angeles. Get it checked out.

RELATED: Signs You're Getting One of the "Most Deadly" Cancers.


A Headache That Wakes You Up

hispanic woman at home bedroom lying in bed late at night trying to sleep suffering insomnia sleeping disorder or scared on nightmares looking sad worried and stressed

Persistent and worsening headaches, especially if a headache wakes you up at night, are signs you shouldn't ignore, says Martin Mortazavi, MD, neurosurgeon and chairman of the California Institute of Neuroscience


Memory Changes

Memory Disorder

Forgetfulness and short-term memory loss could indicate a tumor in the temporal or frontal lobes of the brain, which controls memory. "Sometimes this can occur over months to years, and patients can be thought to have a dementia condition before imaging is done to reveal a brain tumor," says Kesari. 

RELATED: 9 Everyday Habits That Might Lead to Dementia, Say Experts


Unexplained Nausea or Vomiting

Middle aged woman suffering from abdominal pain while sitting on bed at home

Persistent queasiness or vomiting that has no apparent explanation can be the sign of a brain tumor, says Mortazavi. 



selective focus of depressed african american man sitting with bowed head

Unexplained weakness in your arms or legs could be a sign of a brain tumor in the frontal lobe motor cortex, the neurons and pathways that control the muscles, says Kesari. 

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Personality Changes

Photo of angry bristle man dressed in shirt in a cage print sitting on sofa in home and using laptop computer


"Patients present with change in behavior, including disinhibition presenting as risky behaviors, or apathy and doing less they normally would," says Kesari. "Patients may not be as effective at job or home functions. These patients usually have tumors in the frontal lobe where executive functions reside."


Vision Changes

Blurred and double vision while driving

If you have persistent double vision, you should report it to your doctor, says Mansour. Sometimes vision changes may be more subtle: "Patients may or may not be aware of vision loss with brain tumors," says Kesari. "They may keep bumping into things on the side of the body related to the vision loss, and/or have repeated car accidents on the side of the loss."


Speech Changes

Woman In Speech Therapy

Slurred or thick speech—or fluent but nonsensical speech—could result from a tumor affecting the speech areas in the brain's temporal or parietal lobes, says Kesari.


Difficulty Walking

Elderly couple having pain in joints in the park

Losing your balance, feeling unsteady or your feet, or weakness or numbness in the legs, can be a brain tumor symptom. Generally, it's related to a tumor affecting the frontal lobe, the motor fibers that reside there, or the cerebellum, says Kesari. 

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Hearing Changes

woman smiling with hand over ear listening an

Sudden hearing changes are always worthy of investigation by a doctor. A brain tumor affecting the eighth cranial nerve can cause hearing loss, ringing in the ear, or vertigo, says Kesari. And to get through life at your healthiest, Don't Take This Supplement, Which Can Raise Your Cancer Risk.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael