Brain tumour is defined as a growth of cells in the brain or near it. They may be cancerous or not and the symptoms of the disease often depends on the location of the tumour. Cancerous brain tumours tend to progress faster than non-cancerous ones that usually witness a slow growth. (Also read | World Brain Tumour Day 2024: Date, theme, history, significance and all you want to know)

World Brain Tumour Day 2024: Here are surprising reasons of brain tumour that people may overlook(Freepik)

While headache is one of the most common symptoms of brain tumour and is present in almost half of the person who have the disease, other symptoms may include seizures, weakness or numbness in hands or legs, imbalance while walking, hearing loss, change in behaviour, double vision, memory loss or headaches. Depending on the location of the tumours symptoms may vary. Some of them can be very unexpected and people may not connect them with brain tumour.

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Menstrual abnormalities, abnormal behaviour, weakness in limbs, hearing problems, drunken gait, infertility can all relate to brain tumour but may be diagnosed late. On the occasion of World Brain Tumour Day 2024 (June 8), Dr Rahul Gupta, Director. Neurosurgery, Fortis Hospital, Noida shares surprising signs of brain tumour that people may usually ignore.


1. Abnormal behaviour: Patient may become silent, non-cooperative, disinterested in surroundings, agitated or confused. They may visit a psychiatrist or physician who may start medication without doing any radiological investigation. Such patients may improve temporarily but then rapidly deteriorate. Such patients usually have tumours in frontal lobes.

2. Peripheral vision loss: Due to pressure on the optic pathway, there can be different types of vision loss. Partial vision loss can be ignored or misdiagnosed by patient as well as eye surgeon. Many patients lose vision before they do a brain MRI. One common example is pituitary tumour.

3. Hormonal disturbances: Patients with menstrual abnormalities, infertility, galatorrhoea, stunted growth, thyroid-related problems, gigantisism, etc due to hormone imbalance keep visiting physicians, Gynaecologist or endocrinologist may not think about brain tumour as a possibility. Delay in treatment makes excision of tumour difficult and risky.

4. Drunkard gait: Some patients with tumour on the back side of the brain or increased pressure of brain fluid may have an imbalance while walking and it may appear that they have consumed alcohol.

5. Hearing problems: Some patients prefer to attend phone calls from one ear only. They are not aware of gradual reduction in hearing on one side. Tumours arising from eighth cranial nerve can lead to hearing loss in one ear.

6. Sudden severe headache: Some patients develop haemorrhages in pre-existing brain tumours and come to the emergency in an unconscious state. It may be difficult to differentiate between a tumour haemorrhage versus hypertensive bleed.

“Symptoms produced by brain tumors are typically subacute and progressive, developing over days to weeks. However, because initial symptoms are often subtle, delayed recognition can make their eventual appearance seem acute. Unfortunately even a seemingly normal neurological examination cannot completely rule out the presence of an underlying brain tumour,” says Dr. Bharath Kumar Surisett, Consultant Neuro Physician and Movement Disorder Specialist, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad.

Dr Kumar adds to the list other lesser-known signs of a brain tumour that people often overlook:

7. Weakness in limbs: The frontal lobe is a common location for both primary and metastatic brain tumors, which frequently cause motor weakness in the contralateral face or limbs.

8. Language problems: Tumours involving the inferior frontal or superior temporal lobes of the dominant hemisphere frequently present with language difficulty.

9. Visual problems: Brain tumours can cause a number of different visual symptoms depending on which portions of the visual pathway they involve like monocular visual symptoms ranging from scotoma to monocular blindness, visual fied defects, and double vision.

10. Seizures. They are a common brain tumour manifestation that can occur at initial presentation or anytime over the subsequent course of the disease. New onset or increasing frequency or severity of seizures can be a sign of underlying tumour progression and should prompt re-evaluation.

11. Nausea and vomiting: Nausea and vomiting can be generalized signs of increased intracranial pressure in patients with brain tumours, and are most common in tumours of the posterior fossa.

12. Syncope: Brain tumour patients can experience syncope or transient loss of consciousness and tone for a variety of reasons. Changes in position can trigger pressure waves and syncope in patients with elevated intracranial pressure. Syncope may also result from tumour involvement or compression of the brainstem.