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Recognizing the Symptoms: Warning Signs of Brain Tumors

Brain tumors are the second most common form of childhood cancer. The most common forms of brain tumors are:

The signs and symptoms of brain tumors vary widely, but include:

  • headache
  • seizures
  • drowsiness
  • impaired speech
  • difficulty in swallowing
  • impaired vision
  • sudden vomiting
  • poor coordination
  • behavioral changes
  • weakness in a limb or on one side of the body
  • difficulty with balance
  • tingling or weakness in the arms or legs
  • an increase in head size in infants

Treatment for a brain tumor could involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or all three.

Warning signs

Some children may ignore or not recognize symptoms of illness. Other children may be too young to communicate them. So parents or caretakers should make certain children have regular medical checkups and be alert to signs that something might be seriously wrong.

How do you distinguish between a relatively minor illness and a serious illness such as cancer? If a child has any of the following symptoms that are persistent, seek medical attention. Of course, these symptoms can occur for reasons other than serious illness. Do not hesitate to seek second opinions if a doctor is not able to determine the cause.

  • Fever
  • Fatigue, listlessness or pallor
  • Swelling or lumps anywhere on the body
  • Nausea or loss of appetite
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Change in disposition, such as whining or crying spells, unusual irritability
  • Regression of toilet habits
  • Stumbling or falling
  • Double vision or other eye problems
  • Easy and frequent bruising
  • Nosebleeds or bleeding from any part of the body