From the 'American Cancer Society)
Signs and symptoms from brain and spinal cord tumors may occur gradually and become worse over time, or they may happen suddenly.
Tumors in any part of the brain may raise the pressure inside the skull (known as intracranial pressure). This can be caused by growth of the tumor, swelling in the brain, or blockage of the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. Increased pressure can lead to general symptoms such as:
Headaches that get worse over time are a common symptom of brain tumors. However, not all brain tumors cause headaches, and most headaches are not caused by tumors.
In some children, seizures are the first symptom of a brain tumor. Most seizures in children are not caused by brain tumors, but if your child has a seizure, your child’s doctor may refer you to a neurologist (a doctor who specializes in brain and nervous system problems) to make sure it wasn’t caused by a brain tumor or other serious disease.
In the school-aged child, other general symptoms of tumors can include poor school performance, fatigue, and personality changes.
In the first few years of life, other symptoms of tumors can include irritability, loss of appetite, developmental delay, and a drop in intellectual and physical abilities.
If the child can cooperate, the doctor can sometimes tell if pressure inside the skull is increased by looking in the child’s eyes for swelling of the optic nerve (known as papilledema). In very young children who can’t complain of symptoms, a parent may notice an increase in head size, with or without bulging of the soft spots of the skull (fontanelles). This happens because the bones of the skull haven’t grown together yet, and increased pressure from a tumor can push them apart.
Tumors in different parts of the central nervous system can cause different symptoms. But these symptoms can be caused by any disease in that particular location in the brain – they do not always mean a child has a brain tumor.
Brain and spinal cord tumors often cause problems with the specific functions of the region they develop in. For example:
Having one or more of the symptoms above does not mean that your child definitely has a brain or spinal cord tumor. All of these symptoms may have other causes. Still, if your child has any of these symptoms, especially if they don’t go away or get worse over time, see your child’s doctor so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed.