Know the symptoms

Brain tumour symptoms and signs

Doctors refer to brain tumour symptoms and signs.

  • Symptoms are abnormal changes your child may have felt.
  • Signs are what you or other people have observed about your child, e.g. a weakness in an arm or leg, or difficulty with speech.

 A brain tumour can cause symptoms by pushing on the brain or blocking fluid getting to the brain. Sometimes the brain tumour pushes on parts of the brain that control certain body functions. Therefore, the signs and symptoms of each brain tumour are dependent on the size and location of the tumour.

Some signs and symptoms may include:

  • headaches
    • These are headaches that are more severe in the morning and wake you in the night. They are usually different from headaches you might have had previously and will be persistent and worsen with time.
  • seizures
    • A seizure results from abnormal electrical impulses in the brain, causing sudden involuntary changes in movement or function, sensation, awareness or behaviour.
  • nausea/vomiting
    • With a headache, this can indicate increased pressure in the head (raised intracranial pressure).
  • balance problems
  • extreme tiredness
  • vision changes or abnormal eye
    • Changes in the eyes could be a symptom if there is a tumour pressing on the optic nerve or affecting the visual pathways or if there is raised intracranial pressure.
  • hearing loss
  • speech difficulties
    • This may include the loss of ability to write, speak or understand words. A person may have difficulty getting the right words out (expressive dysphasia) or difficulty articulating them (dysarthria).
  • changes in head position and size
  • behaviour change
  • delayed or no puberty.

Brain tumours can be difficult to diagnose. Sometimes symptoms might develop gradually and can be like those of other common childhood conditions. If you are concerned about your child, please talk to your doctor right away.

The HeadSmart campaign is a national campaign raising awareness of brain tumours. They have specific information to look out for in babies, children and teenagers.

To learn more about age-specific signs and symptoms of brain tumours, have a look at the HeadSmart campaign.


What to do?

 Worried your child has a brain tumour?

Please do remember that brain tumours are rare, and if your child has some of the symptoms listed above, it doesn’t mean they have a brain tumour. There are many other conditions these symptoms can be related to. However, if you notice your child is having these symptoms regularly or they are uncontrollable, make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.

For some of the more serious symptoms, or if your child needs urgent care, please take them to your closest emergency department or call 999.

Did this information make you feel more resourced, more confident or more in control?