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What Is the Connection between Brain Tumors and Seizures?

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  • Written By: B. Koch
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2016
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Brain tumors and seizures are connected because individuals with certain types of tumors often experience seizures. These seizures are the result of complications created by the tumor, but not all brain tumors have a high likelihood of causing seizures. Some result in a higher rate of seizures than others, and there are many different causes of seizures other than brain tumors.

Although sometimes connected, brain tumors and seizures are not always related. Seizures may be caused by a number of conditions, such as a brain injury, infection, or complications from other medical conditions, such as diabetes or liver failure. Symptoms of a seizure often include a change in consciousness, such as a loss of memory or complete unconsciousness, changes in vision as well as uncontrollable muscle movements.

There are many different types of brain tumors that may affect an individual, and not all seizures and brain tumors are connected in the same way. A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of cells that develops in the brain. Ganglioglioma tumors have the highest rate of seizures — about 90%. Over half of low and high grade glioma patients experience a seizure, while fewer than half of those individuals with glioblastoma and meningioma have seizures.

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Several factors can cause a brain tumors to trigger seizures. The tumor can disrupt the flow of electricity in the brain, causing a seizure. Brain tumors and seizures are also connected by the swelling and pressure that a tumor causes on the brain, which is a common trigger of seizures. Seizures are often controlled through steroids that control brain swelling, as well as with anti-seizure medications.

A number of different classifications of seizures may be applied to brain tumors and seizures. Focal seizures involve only a portion of the brain and may be simple or complex. Simple seizures involve no loss of memory, while complex seizures do. In a focal seizure, only one part or side of the body may be affected. Unlike focal seizures, generalized seizures affect the entire brain and body.

Various symptoms are associated with brain tumors and seizures. Headaches are also a common effect of brain tumors and may differ from normal headaches in length, severity, and unresponsiveness to typical headache medication. Personality changes can occur, along with short-term memory loss. Depending on the location of the tumor, more localized symptoms may occur. For example, if the tumor is located near the speech center of the brain, speech may be lost or adversely affected.

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