What does a Brain Tumor Feel Like?

A brain tumor is a growth or mass of abnormally grown cells. It could be in your brain or close to your brain. Brain tumors can be divided into different categories. Some of them are benign or noncancerous, while others are malignant or cancerous. You have a primary brain tumor if it grows in your brain; it is called secondary or metastatic brain tumor if the cancer begins in other parts of the body but later spreads to your brain. Brain tumors can grow at a varying rate, and the symptoms you experience usually depend on the location and the growth rate of the tumor.

What Does a Brain Tumor Feel Like?

When you develop a brain tumor, your symptoms are mainly because of two reasons. Firstly, you experience certain symptoms when the tumor grows and takes up more space inside your skull. Secondly, you experience certain symptoms mainly because of the precise location of the tumor in the brain. The most common symptoms of brain tumor are fits and headaches, but these symptoms do not always indicate tumors.

Symptoms Due to Increased Pressure in the Head

What does a brain tumor feel like when it grows in your brain? When a tumor grows, it increases in size and puts more pressure in the skull. This raised intracranial pressure (raised ICP) may lead to certain symptoms, such as:

  • Headaches: Headaches are common when you have brain tumors, but there could be other illnesses causing headaches. Talk to your doctor if your headaches are severe, you are getting them more often, and you become sick at the same time. Sometimes, you wake up with a severe headache which gets better during the day. These headaches usually get worse by bending over, sneezing, coughing, or exercising.
  • Sickness: You may feel sick when you get up in the morning. Nausea is usually worse in the morning. Some people also have hiccups along with nausea and sickness.
  • Drowsiness: It is usually an advanced symptom of a brain tumor. You may sleep more often during the day and it may actually become difficult to wake you up. Some people also experience problems with their eyes and fits due to raised intracranial pressure.
  • Vision problems: You may notice your sight failing quickly when you have a brain tumor. Other problems include floating shapes, blurred vision, temporary loss of vision, and tunnel vision. Your optician may be able to detect raised intracranial pressure during an examination of your eyes.
  • Seizures: A fit can be twitching or jerking of an arm, hand, or leg. It can also affect the whole body. Anti-epilepsy medications help control fits, and the treatment of a tumor might help stop fits completely. You may continue to have fits even after treatment if there is scar tissue left in the brain.

Symptoms Due to the Position of the Brain Tumor

Tumor Position


Tumor Position


Frontal lobe

Apathy, personality changes, irritability, planning difficulty, facial weakness, aggressiveness, walking difficulty, sight and speech difficulty, loss of sense of smell

Temporal lobe

Forgetting words, hearing voices in the head, fits, short-term memory loss

Parietal lobe

Paralysis, problems with writing or reading, difficulty speaking

Occipital lobe

Loss of vision or sight problems on one side


Sickness, dizziness, uncontrolled eye movement, poor coordination, neck stiffness

Brain stem

Seeing double, difficulty speaking, poor coordination, difficulty swallowing, drooping eyelid

Spinal cord

Loss of bowel or bladder control, numbness in body parts, pain, weakness in the arms or legs

Pituitary gland

Weight gain, infertility, infrequent/irregular periods, enlarged feet and hands, diabetes, hypertension, mood swings


Sight problems, sickness, headache, problems with movement

Nerves controlling sight

Failing sight

How Is Brain Tumor Diagnosed?

What does a brain tumor feel like? Knowing this may help you determine if you have something to worry about, but you should see your doctor when you are not sure. Your doctor makes a diagnosis after asking questions about your symptoms and considering your family health history. They may also perform a neurological exam and order certain tests if they suspect a brain tumor. They may order:

  • Imaging studies, such as MRI or CT (CAT) scan to see images of your brain.
  • MRA or angiogram, which involves using x-rays of blood vessels in your brain to identify any signs of abnormal blood vessels.

If a tumor is present, your doctor may ask for a biopsy to determine if it is cancerous.

How do People Diagnosed with Brain Tumor Feel?

"Yesterday, my doctor told me I had a brain tumor. I have been experiencing symptoms for about 3 months and went to see my doctor for help. They diagnosed me with vestibular neuritis (VN) first and then an abnormal MRI raised concerns. My symptoms were dizziness, headaches, being off balance, tinnitus, nausea, and vision problems. My neurosurgeon said I should be more concerned about the tumor than the neuritis. I am hoping for this to be over soon."

"I have a brain tumor around my left eye. It is a benign tumor though and causes no pain. It does make my eye feel heavy due to pressure. It took me a good amount of time and visits to several doctors to finally confirm I had a tumor. I am going to have surgery in two weeks and I am terrified because I think I am never going to be the same after this."

"I was diagnosed with brain tumor back in December 2014 and it changed me for good. I was very upbeat but then became confused about everything. I lost my sense of time. My physical first said it could be due to dementia but I later had an MRI that confirmed I had a tumor glioma of 6cm x 6cm in size."

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