The first symptoms of any brain tumor, can be caused as the tumor grows. The growth can increase pressure in the brain Symptoms may include:
- Visual changes
- Personality changes
- Problems with memory, thinking, and concentration
- Problems with walking
Symptoms will vary, depending on the location of the tumor. For example:
- Frontal lobe—gradual changes in mood and personality, paralysis on one side of the body
- Temporal lobe—problems with coordination, speech, and memory
- Parietal lobe—problems with sensation, writing, or fine motor skills
- Cerebellum—problems with coordination and balance
- Occipital lobe— problems with vision, visual hallucinations
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
- MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to define the anatomy of the brain, the most sensitive and clearest way to define a brain tumor
- CT scan —an x-ray device that takes circular pictures of the brain using x-ray beams
- Angiogram —x-rays taken after a dye is injected into the arteries, allowing the doctor to look for abnormalities in the arteries that lead to the brain
- Biopsy/resection —removal of a sample of brain tissue to test for cancer cells
A specialist will determine the grade of the tumor. Astrocytomas are graded from I to IV. These grades indicate the prognosis and rate of tumor growth.
- Grades I and II—These low-grade astrocytomas grow slowly. They generally stay localized in an area of the brain. They are more commonly found in younger patients. Grade II astrocytomas can spread.
- Grades III and IV—These high-grade tumors grow rapidly. They can spread throughout the brain and spinal cord. Aggressive treatment is needed. This is the most common type found in adults. Grade III tumors are called anaplastic astrocytoma. Grade IV tumors are called glioblastoma multiforme or GBM.