Yes, they can be. As a brain tumor grows larger, it takes up more and more space within the skull, thereby increasing intracranial pressure. This increased pressure can lead to feelings of nausea. Brain tumors can also affect hormone levels, thereby causing someone to feel nauseated.
Nausea and vomiting also can occur when a tumor develops in a particular area of the brain. The cerebellum, for instance, is the part of the brain that controls balance, so if a brain tumor presses against the cerebellum, the person could end up feeling dizzy and nauseated. Likewise, pressure on the brain stem could cause double vision, which could in turn lead to nausea.
How to tell if nausea and vomiting are caused by a brain tumor
While nausea and vomiting can sometimes be caused by a brain tumor, it’s important to note that they’re usually brought on by conditions unrelated to tumors, such as stomach ailments, the flu, migraines, pregnancy and food poisoning. If you’ve ruled out other potential causes, you’ll want to pay attention to whether your nausea:
- Continues for at least a week
- Is worse in the morning
- Is worse when laying down
- Becomes worse after suddenly changing positions
All of these signs can point to a brain tumor. You’ll also want to watch for other symptoms of a brain tumor, since it’s rare for a brain tumor to only cause nausea and vomiting, without any other indications.
Diagnosis and treatment at Moffitt
Of course, the only way to know for sure whether nausea and vomiting are caused by a brain tumor is to obtain a diagnosis from a skilled medical provider. For brain tumor diagnosis and treatment, you can turn to Moffitt Cancer Center.
Moffitt’s Neuro-Oncology Program takes a comprehensive approach to brain tumor treatment. Each patient’s case is reviewed by our multispecialty team, which comprises physicians in all areas of care in a single, convenient location. The team collaborates to develop individualized treatment plans for every patient. And, as a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Moffitt is at the forefront of research and houses a robust clinical trials program, making the most innovative therapies available to our patients as soon as possible.
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Michael Vogelbaum, Program Leader, Department of Neuro-Oncology.