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AARP: 6 Brain Tumor Symptoms You Should Not Ignore

AARP recently interviewed Keith L. Black, MD, chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai, about a wide variety of symptoms that might be signs of a brain tumor.

Most brain tumors aren't cancerous, but even benign ones can be life-threatening. Because brain tumors are uncommon, the symptoms—such as an unusual headache, confusion or personality changes—can be mistaken for signs of another health condition.

One of the most recognizable symptoms of a brain tumor is a seizure, which happens when something disturbs regular brain activity, Black told AARP. The appearance of a seizure can vary based on a tumor's location. For example, if there is a tumor developing in the area of the brain that controls the left side of the body, a seizure could cause twitching only in the left arm or leg.

“The key thing with a seizure is that it comes and goes,” said Black, a professor of Neurosurgery and the Ruth and Lawrence Harvey Chair in Neuroscience.

Another set of symptoms—unexplained speech, vision or hearing problems—can occur when a tumor grows near the areas of the brain that control these functions. A tumor growing near the visual pathways can cause loss of peripheral vision on one side or cause someone to see flashing lights. Expressing words or understanding what is said can become difficult if a tumor grows in the region that affects language and speech. Hearing loss on one side, vertigo and tinnitus all can be signs of a tumor pressing on hearing or balance nerves, Black told AARP.

It's commonly understood that numbness, weakness, or tingling on one side of the body can signify a stroke, but many people don't realize that these sensations also can indicate a brain tumor, Black said. Because the tingling is temporary and subtle, patients might not mention it to their medical provider. "I have [brain tumor] patients all the time who give their history and say they started to have tingling three months ago or six months ago,” Black told AARP. 

Patients should immediately consult their physician if they experience any of these symptoms.

Click here to read the complete article from AARP.