Helping the nation recognise the symptoms of childhood brain tumours
Friday 21 February 2014
More than 500 children are diagnosed with a brain tumour each year in the UK and, in part, due to late diagnosis, a quarter will die or survive with debilitating disabilities.
To ensure that parents, carers and teachers in Hampshire are aware of the symptoms, and can get the appropriate medical attention if required, HeadSmart is distributing more than 170,000 HeadSmart symptom cards from The Brain Tumour Charity to schools and GP surgeries across the county, with support from Hampshire County Council.
HeadSmart was launched in 2011 to raise awareness and reduce the time from the presenting of symptoms to diagnosis, from 9.1 weeks to below five - in line with that of other developed countries.
HeadSmart was developed by The Brain Tumour Charity, the Children's Brain Tumour Research Centre at The University of Nottingham and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. It was born out of the concern that was developing among health professionals and parents about the length of time it was taking for healthcare professionals to diagnose brain tumours in children and young people, thus delaying treatment.
The campaign has already produced laudable results, with average diagnosis times dropping from 9.1 weeks to 6.9 weeks in the two years following the launch in June 2011. Brain tumours in children can be very difficult to diagnose as the initial symptoms are often non-specific and can occur with other more common, and less serious childhood illnesses.
The most typical symptoms of brain tumour in children and young people include:
persistent or recurring vomiting
persistent or recurring headaches
blurred or double vision
poor balance and co-ordination
abnormal eye movements
fits or seizures
behavioural changes, especially tiredness
in older children or teenagers, symptoms can also include slow or late start of puberty.
James Walsh, Policy and Campaigns Manager at The Brain Tumour Charity, said: "Distributing the HeadSmart symptoms cards to parents and carers is a vital tool for raising awareness of the campaign. By informing people, our aim is to reduce the time it takes from symptoms first presenting, to diagnosis."
Councillor Roy Perry, Leader of Hampshire County Council, said: "HeadSmart is an important campaign as brain tumours in children and young people can be very difficult to diagnose. The aim of this campaign is to increase awareness of the symptoms of brain tumours amongst parents and carers to improve the early diagnoses of these conditions."
Further information about the campaign is available at www.headsmart.org.uk as well as an active social media campaign - @HeadSmartUK and Facebook. If you are concerned about a child who may have symptoms, contact your GP.
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