The symptoms caused by a brain metastasis depend on the tumor’s location. For instance, a metastasis in a section of the brain that manages visual processing may cause vision problems.
Though symptoms vary from patient to patient, common brain metastasis symptoms include:
- Headaches: These are often the first symptoms of a brain metastasis. They are caused by the tumor putting pressure on the brain and skull. A headache caused by brain metastases usually becomes progressively worse as time passes. It may not get better with over-the-counter pain medicine and it may be associated with nausea or vomiting. It can get worse when you lie down, bend over or bear down, such as when you have a bowel movement.
- Seizures: Seizures can take many different forms, such as episodes of numbness, tingling, uncontrollable arm and leg movements, difficulty speaking, strange smells or sensations, staring and unresponsive episodes or convulsions.
- Changes in mental function, mood or personality: You may become withdrawn, moody or inefficient at work. You may feel drowsy, confused and unable to think. Depression and anxiety, especially if either develops suddenly, may be an early symptom of a brain tumor. You may become uninhibited or behave in ways you never have before.
- Speech problems: Issues can include trouble finding words, talking incoherently and an inability to express or understand language.
- Changes in the senses: Brain metastases can impact your ability to hear, smell or see. This can include double vision or blurred vision.
- Changes in the sense of touch: Your ability to feel heat, cold, pressure, a light touch or sharp objects may change.
- Loss of balance or coordination.
- Changes in pulse or breathing rates: This symptom is caused by the tumor pressing against the brainstem.
In addition, brain metastases can harm the brain by:
- Invading and destroying brain tissue.
- Putting pressure on nearby tissue.
- Taking up space and increasing pressure within the skull (intracranial pressure).
- Causing fluid to build-up in the brain.
- Blocking normal circulation of cerebrospinal fluid through the spaces within the brain.
- Causing bleeding in the brain.
Due to our response to COVID-19, all blood donations at MD Anderson
Blood Donor Center locations are being held by appointment only.