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  • Question: My boyfriend had a CT of his brain after a motorcycle accident and was told he had a 5 mm tumor. He said a few years ago a doctor had mentioned it and noone gave it another thought or any further testing. Since then (over 1 year), he has been extremely depressed, isolated, lethargic, fatigued, highly irritable, with memory loss and an inability to concentrate, and often has speech difficulty (not being able to think of a word he wants to say or speaking quickly and slurring), and repeats himself very often (like you would see in dementia patients). He is 53. My question is: would a mass of this size cause these things and, in fact, be an organic problem, rather than a depression, bipolar or other psychiatric problem? He has been to psych doctors and has tried several different medications that have not been effective. He never mentioned the tumor to the doctor because he felt noone else at the hospital had seemed worried about it. I would understand if his symptoms are indicative of major depression or bipolar disease, but was wondering if the presence of this tumor makes a difference. Am I reaching for straws or can there be organic reasons such as thyroid level, testosterone level, or brain tumor side effects? He was never given any blood work or testing before being started on medication.
  • Answer:11/06/2009
    Yes, a 5 mm tumor in the frontal lobe can cause these symptoms. See www.survivingbraincancer.com for two helpful books and also www.virtualtrials.com for online info. He needs to be evaluated by a brain tumor team. The books have names, addresses and phone numbers for the major institutions in Europe and North America.

    Paul M. Zeltzer MD Clinical Professor in Neurosurgery David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
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