Brain Tumour: When should one seek medical advice?

By  , Expert Content
Dec 31, 2012

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Symptoms of brain tumour in most patients are non-specific. Symptoms similar to brain tumour can be caused due to several other medical problems such as infection in the brain, injury etc. Cancer, which is diagnosed in the early stages, responds better to treatment and its prognosis is better. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor for any bothersome symptom, which may persist for more than a few days.

Consult your doctor if you have any/all of the following symptoms suggestive of some type of significant medical problem:

  • Headache: If you have recurrent or persistent headache that does not improve with a common pain relieving medication (such as paracetamol, ibuprofen), consult a doctor. Headache due to brain tumour is usually worse at night, in the morning (just after waking) and gradually decreases as the day goes on. Remember that most headaches are benign and not caused due to brain tumour.
  • Vomiting: Vomiting after waking up in the morning with or without nausea can be caused due to brain tumour.
  • Memory disturbance: Loss of short or long term memory can be a symptom of brain tumour.
  • Speech problems: Brain tumour may impair the person’s ability to understand (sensory aphasia) or express (motor aphasia). Some other tumours may affect the person’s ability to use or get the right words.
  • Other symptoms: If you have other neurological symptoms such as sluggishness, drowsiness or uncoordinated and clumsy movements, consult your doctor.

Symptoms that need urgent medical consultation or treatment

  • Seizures: Some tumours can compress the brain tissues and irritate them thereby, causing seizure/s.
  • Limb weakness or any abnormal sensation in the limbs: If you develop any kind of neurological deficit such as limb weakness, facial weakness or loss of sensation in any part of the body, consult your doctor immediately. These symptoms are caused when the tumour in certain parts of the brain such as the motor or sensory cortex grows.
  • Blurred vision: Any problem with vision mandates immediate medical consultation. Vision may become blurred or there may be total loss of vision if the nerve to the eye is compressed or swollen (papilloedema).
  • Loss of consciousness: Even a brief loss of consciousness requires examination by a health professional to diagnose the cause.

Who to consult

Some health professionals, who can be consulted to evaluate your symptoms include;

  • General physicians.
  • Family doctor.
  • Assistants of physicians.
  • Internists.

These are some symptoms that are suggestive of brain cancer. If you have one or more of these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that you have brain tumour. Your doctor can diagnose the cause of your symptoms and treat them accordingly.


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