Brain Tumor Symptoms & Diagnosis

Brain Tumor Symptoms

Brain tumor symptoms vary depending on the tumor size, type and location. Symptoms may occur when a tumor damages a certain area of the brain or causes swelling. The most common brain tumor symptoms include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Changes in speech, vision or hearing
  • Problems balancing or walking
  • Changes in mood, personality or the ability to concentrate
  • Problems with memory
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs

These symptoms are not always indicative of a brain tumor and may be caused by other conditions. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should be evaluated by your physician.

Brain Tumor Diagnosis

Examinations & Tests

Members of Lahey’s Brain Tumor Clinic team, including a neurosurgeon, neuro-oncologist, neuropathologist and neuroradiologist, work collaboratively when evaluating a patient with a potential brain tumor diagnosis. One or more of the following examinations and tests may be performed:

  • Medical history: The patient provides information regarding any past and present health conditions to assist the physician in assessing his/her current health status.
  • Neurologic exam: The physician assesses cognitive and language functions, strength, coordination, reflexes and perception.
  • CT (computed tomography) scan: A type of imaging using x-ray beams to take pictures of the body that can be used to look for brain tumors or bleeding.
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): A non-invasive imaging technique that produces a detailed 3D image of the brain using a magnetic field. A contrast dye (gadolinium) is injected into the veins of the arm to help diagnose certain tumors.

Additional studies such as MR Spectroscopy and MR Perfusion can be used to help diagnose tumors. We have both 3 Telsa and 1.5 Telsa MRI machines.

Biopsy & Tumor Resection

Obtaining tumor tissue is the only way to make a definitive brain tumor diagnosis. Your neurosurgeon may recommend a biopsy or a resection. A stereotactic brain biopsy uses frameless neuro-navigation (3D coordination with your MRI images) to guide the surgeon’s biopsy target. In some cases, the tissue sample is obtained by resecting (removing) a larger amount of tumor.

Following surgery, a neuropathologist examines the cells under a microscope and sends the tissue for certain molecular and genetic alterations, using all of this information in combination to make a diagnosis.