Brain tumour symptoms: Eight signs you could have a life-threatening growth

Brain tumour symptoms can vary depending on the type of brain tumour, which part of the brain has been affected and how big the tumour is.

While the symptoms aren’t always caused by a brain tumour, it’s still important to recognise them and contact your GP as soon as possible.

Bupa lists eight signs of a brain tumour to be wary of, but splits these into two categories – symptoms you can get as a result of increased pressure on your brain from the tumour and symptoms you can get as a result of the position of the tumour in the brain.

Increased pressure on the brain from the tumour can cause:

  • Headaches – these are often worse at night and early in the morning
  • Feeling sick or vomiting
  • Blurred vision

Symptoms as a result of the position of the tumour in the brain:

  • Seizures (fits) – you may lose consciousness
  • Problems walking
  • Feeling weak on one side of the body
  • Problems with speaking, your sight, hearing, or your sense of smell
  • Changes in your personality, memory or mental ability

The NHS advises that brain tumours, while rare, can affect people of any age, including children.

It states: “More than 9,000 people are diagnosed with primary brain tumours in the UK each year, of which about half are cancerous. Many others are diagnosed with secondary brain tumours.”

A primary brain tumour starts in the brain, while a secondary brain tumour means the cancer has spread to the brain from another part of the body.

What causes brain tumours? It’s  unknown, but there risk factors that can increase your chance of getting the disease, according to Cancer Research UK.


People can get brain tumours at any age, says the research charity. It explains: “As we get older out risk of brain tumours increases. But there are many different types of brain tumour and some are more common in younger people.”

Medical radiation

Exposure to radiation has also been found to be a risk factor, but this only accounts for a very small number of brain tumours.

Previous cancers

People who have had cancer as a child have a higher risk of developing a brain tumour later in life, says Cancer Research UK.

It adds: “People who have had leukaemia, non Hodgkin lymphoma or a glioma brain tumour as an adult also have an increased risk.

Family history

The research charity explains: “Your risk is higher than other people in the general population if you have a parent, brother or sister diagnosed with a brain tumour.”

Being overweight

This can increase the risk of some types of brain cancer. It advises: “Try to keep a healthy weight by being physically active and eating a healthy, balanced diet.”


People with HIV or AIDS have around double the risk of being diagnosed with a brain tumour compared to the general population, according to Cancer Research UK.


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