Even if you have concerning symptoms, such as an ongoing headache or seizures, it doesn’t mean you have a brain tumor. The only way to know what’s causing your symptoms is to get a proper medical diagnosis.

If you’ve been wondering how you may be able to tell whether you have brain tumor, the answer is that you can’t do this yourself, nor should you. It’s not possible to self-diagnose a brain tumor, and doing so may delay the medical care you need.

It’s important that you visit a healthcare professional if you have any unusual symptoms, including symptoms that could be indications of a brain tumor, such as a worsening headache, seizures, or visual changes. They can order diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and provide the right type of treatment.

This article will address the most common symptoms of brain tumors, how they’re diagnosed, and what other conditions may cause similar symptoms as a brain tumor.

There are different types of brain tumors. The symptoms can differ depending on where the tumor is located, what kind of tumor it is, and how fast it’s growing. The order in which brain tumor symptoms appear can also vary.


According to a 2018 study, more than 58% of people with brain tumors reported having headache symptoms. Half of these people reported that a headache was the first symptom they experienced.

These headaches tend to get worse over time as a tumor grows and puts increased pressure on the inside of the skull. This is known as intracranial pressure.


A headache is rarely the only symptom of a brain tumor. According to the American Cancer Society, about half of people with a brain tumor will experience a seizure.

In some people, a seizure may be the first symptom of a brain tumor.

Other symptoms

Besides seizures and a headache that continues to worsen, other symptoms of a brain tumor may include:

  • personality changes
  • vision changes or blurry vision
  • problems with balance or coordination
  • fatigue or drowsiness
  • nausea or vomiting
  • cognitive issues (problems with critical thinking, reasoning, problem solving)

When to see a doctor

It’s a good idea to see a doctor if you have any new or concerning physical, cognitive, or behavioral symptoms.

This is especially important if your symptoms don’t go away with over-the-counter treatment, such as pain relievers, or continue to get worse.

It’s unlikely that your symptoms are caused by a brain tumor, but it’s important to determine what’s causing your symptoms and to get the right treatment.

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If you have any symptoms of a brain tumor, don’t delay getting medical attention.

Your doctor will likely start off by asking you questions about your symptoms, including how long you’ve had them. Then, they’ll do a physical exam, which may include testing your:

  • balance
  • coordination
  • reflexes
  • vision
  • muscle strength
  • alertness

Further testing will likely include imaging tests, which will give your doctor detailed images of your brain. The imaging tests that are most often used are magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans.

An MRI is considered the best diagnostic test for brain tumors, as it provides more detailed pictures of the brain than a CT scan. An MRI doesn’t use X-rays. Instead, it uses radio waves and powerful magnets to create images of your brain. In some situations, a contrast material may be injected into a vein to help create more detailed pictures of your brain’s structures.

A CT scan uses X-rays to create cross-sectional images of your brain. CT scans aren’t used as often as MRIs for diagnosing a brain tumor, but they may be used if an MRI isn’t an option, or if your doctor wants to look at the effects of a tumor on the bones of your skull.

If a tumor is detected, you’ll need a biopsy so that your doctor can find out what type of tumor it is. A biopsy may be done as a stand-alone procedure or as part of a surgical procedure to remove the tumor.

How is a brain tumor treated?

Treatment for brain tumors depends on the type of tumor and where it’s located.Treatment will typically involve one or more of the following:

It’s common for people to assume that symptoms such as a headache, vision changes, coordination issues, or seizures are caused by a brain tumor. But, the symptoms of a brain tumor can be similar to many other health conditions.

In other words, just because you have symptoms of a brain tumor, it doesn’t mean you have one. In fact, only 1% of people will develop a brain tumor in their lifetime.

Even if you have a more unusual symptom, such as seizures, it’s unlikely you have a brain tumor. While it’s true that about 50% of people with brain tumors experience seizures, fewer than 1 in 10 people have a first-time seizure that’s caused by a brain tumor.

It’s also important to understand that not all brain masses are brain tumors. For example, older research has found that some masses that resemble tumors aren’t actually brain tumors but may be due to:

Additionally, a condition called pseudotumor cerebri — which translates to “false brain tumor” — has many of the same symptoms as a brain tumor, including headache and nausea.

This condition is caused by poor absorption, or buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. This condition is most common in women between 20 and 50 years of age.

It’s not possible to diagnose yourself with a brain tumor, even if you have concerning symptoms. Many symptoms of a brain tumor can be caused by other health conditions. The only way to know if you have a brain tumor is to get a medical diagnosis from a healthcare professional.

An MRI is considered the best way to diagnose a brain tumor. If a doctor notices a mass in your brain, they’ll do a biopsy to determine what type of tumor it is. Based on this information, they’ll then decide what type of treatment will be most effective.