7 Early Warning Signs of Brain Cancer That You Need to Know


Cancer is one of the worst diagnoses someone can ever get, but brain cancer is one of the most serious and scariest forms of the disease. It’s important to be aware of symptoms so you don’t accidentally ignore something that could be a sign of brain cancer.

You might’ve heard that John McCain, former presidential candidate and Republican Senator, recently passed away at the age 81 from his battle with glioblastoma, a type of cancerous brain tumor, which is aggressive and thought to be incurable.

While he was aware of the cancer, which he was diagnosed with in July 2017, there are many people who don’t know they have it until it’s too late. That might be because brain tumors often don’t present very many symptoms, so they can be hard to pinpoint.

However, if you pay close attention, you should be able to note some subtle changes and get the medical care you need. Here are some early warning signs of brain cancer.

  1. Persistent headaches

    Woman with a headache.TipHero

    Headaches are one of the most common brain tumor signs, affecting about half of people with brain tumors, according to the AmericaAmerican Brain Tumor Association. The pain is typically described as worst upon waking up in the morning, steady pain throughout the day, and may get worse if moving suddenly, whether it’s coughing or exercising. A big indicator is that these types of headaches won’t respond to pain medication.

  2. Sudden onset of seizures

    A seizure is actually commonly one of the first clues that someone has a brain tumor, especially if you’ve never had them before. Brain tumors can apply pressure onto nerve cells in the brain, which can interfere with electrical signals and cause a seizure. About half of people with brain tumors endure at least one brain seizure, according to the American Cancer Society.

  3. Short-term memory loss

    While long-term memory can also be a sign of a brain tumor, short-term memory loss—say remembering a friend’s phone number or what you ate for breakfast, is more commonly affected. You might also find that you’re more easily confused than you used to be and might have trouble multitasking or planning an upcoming event.

  4. Mood changes

    Have you been noticing anything weird about your personality? Perhaps some mood swings, e.g., going from sad to angry, happy to depressed, and so on? “A large, slowly growing tumor in the frontal lobe can alter personality and judgment so far as to be mistaken for criminal behavior or psychiatric problems,” says Mike Chen, MD, PhD, associate professor in the division of neurosurgery, department of surgery, at City of Hope in California.

  5. Depression

    More than 1 in 4 people with a brain tumor suffer from a major depressive disorder, according to a study published in World Journal of Psychiatry. We’re not just talking about feeling down some days, we mean persistent, prolonged feelings of intense sadness hat can interfere with your daily life. You might feel worthless or have the feeling like there’s no hope.

  6. Hearing problems

    You might suddenly have problems hearing others or even the TV as well as you used to, or experience a ringing in your ears. “If you’re experiencing hearing loss from one side or a constant ringing sensation, known as tinnitus, you’ll want to make an appointment with your doctor, who can determine whether your symptoms are severe enough to see a neurologist,” says Dr. Christopher Carrubba, MD, co-director for medical education at Med School Tutors.

  7. Extreme fatigue

    It’s not just that you’re kinda tired, you’re completely exhausted all day, every day. You might physically feel weaker than usual, and some say their limbs feel heavy. You might even catch yourself nodding off in the middle of the work day or completely lose your ability to focus. Note: While fatigue is a side effect of a cancerous brain tumor, it’s also a side effect of many other things, so be sure to check in with your doc about this.monkeybusiness via Deposit Photos

If you have several of these symptoms, it’s vital that you reach out to your doctor. Do you know anyone who’s ever had brain cancer before?