Symptoms of Low Grade Glioma

Symptoms of low grade gliomas vary based on where the tumor is located. For example:

  • A person with a low grade glioma in the part of the brain that controls their left arm may have weakness, numbness, tingling or pain in that limb.
  • A glioma in the part of the brain that controls vision may cause difficulty seeing.
  • A glioma can cause a seizure with symptoms that are different based on the tumor location. If the tumor is located in the part of the brain that controls the right hand, someone may have a seizure that involves an episode of right hand twitching. A tumor within the speech area may cause an episode of difficulty speaking.
  • Sometimes, low grade gliomas do not cause any symptoms but are found incidentally when the brain is imaged for other reasons, such as after a car crash.

Most Common Symptom: Seizures

The most common symptom of a low grade glioma is a seizure. In some cases, seizures may be so subtle that you barely notice them. Other times, low grade gliomas cause seizures that are obvious, including loss of consciousness.

Often people think of seizures as episodes of falling to the floor with shaking; however, when seizures occur in people with low grade gliomas, they often begin with more focal symptoms, such as:

  • Unusual smells
  • Upset stomach
  • Anxiety or anxiety attacks
  • Loss of time
  • Feeling of deja vu or jamais vu
  • Trouble speaking and understanding other people speaking
  • Episodes of confusion
  • Numbness or weakness
  • Vision problems

When seizures occur in patients with low grade gliomas, they are often diagnosed with a condition called tumor-related epilepsy. Epilepsy means that someone is at risk of continuing to have seizures if they do not take seizure medications.

For patients with uncontrolled seizures caused by low grade gliomas, or brain-tumor–related epilepsy, specialists in the Low Grade Glioma Program partner with those in the Northwestern Medicine Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. Through this partnership, we can offer comprehensive treatment options with the goal of eliminating your seizures and improving your quality of life.