What are the symptoms of primary brain tumors?

The signs and symptoms of a primary brain tumor depend on the location and size of the tumor and can include:

  • Headaches that are worse in the morning or go away after vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Comprehension problems
  • Vision, hearing or speech issues
  • Loss of appetite
  • Walking and balance problems
  • Muscle weakness

How are primary brain tumors diagnosed?

If you experience signs and symptoms of a primary brain tumor or other primary CNS tumor, your doctor can perform a neurological exam (a physical exam of your nervous system) to assess your symptoms. If the results of the neurological exam suggest a brain tumor, your doctor will refer you for further testing to confirm a diagnosis.

At Miami Cancer Institute, our neuroradiology specialists begin the diagnostic process by creating images of the brain through an imaging test like computed tomography, positron emission tomography or MRI. 

Imaging tests help doctors learn the location, size and number of tumors and can also show if a brain tumor is high-grade or low-grade.

If imaging tests show a tumor, a biopsy (examination of brain tumor tissue under a microscope) is often needed to learn the type of brain tumor you have. This is important because the correct treatment approach varies by brain tumor type. Biopsies can also reveal the genetic information (DNA) about a tumor, which helps your doctors personalize your care further.

Our specialists are skilled in several brain tumor biopsy techniques – both open and closed. The technique used depends on the location of the tumor.

In some cases, a biopsy cannot be done, and your doctors will use your imaging test results to guide your treatment.

Your care team may also suggest a lumbar puncture to check your cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord) for abnormal cells that indicate certain tumors.

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