THE CHILDREN'S BRAIN TUMOUR CHARITY

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Types of Tumour

There are 130 types of brain tumour

Childhood Brain Tumours

Joss Searchlight is a national charity supporting research & supporting families of children living with brain tumours.

Tumours affecting the brain and central nervous system are the second most common type of children’s cancer in the UK.  Early diagnosis is vital. 

Although symptoms of a brain tumour can be similar to other childhood illnesses, if you believe your child is displaying any symptom of a brain tumour take them to a GP. 

Astrocytomas are the most common type of brain and spinal cord tumour in children. They are a type of brain tumour called a glioma. Over 4 out of 10 (over 40%) brain and spinal cord tumours in children are astrocytomas. They can develop anywhere in the brain.

Most astrocytomas in children are low grade. This means the tumour cells look similar to normal cells, the tumours grow fairly slowly and are less likely to spread. Less commonly the astrocytoma is high grade. These tumours tend to grow more quickly and are more likely to spread to other areas of the body. 

Choroid plexus carcinomas are a high grade (grade 3), fast growing tumour which can block the cerebro-spinal fluid from circulating and draining, causing pressure to build up in the skull.

These carcinomas occur most often in one year olds, where the signs of the raised pressure may be vomiting , an inability to look upwards and tiredness.

Craniopharyngioma – are rare and usually slow-growing, low grade (benign) tumours. They affect an area above the pituitary gland and near the cranial nerve from the eyes to the brain.

These tumours are associated with specific symptoms such as problems with vision and growth. 

Previously called DIPGs, are the second most common type of primary high grade brain tumour in children. They are grade 4 brain tumours that are fast growing, likely to spread, difficult to remove surgically because they are diffuse, which means they don’t have well-defined borders. 

These tumours develop in a part of the brainstem called the pons, controlling vital bodily functions, e.g.  breathing, swallowing, heartbeat and blood pressure. Nerves controlling limbs, balance and eye movement are also in the brain stem meaning that surgery is not usually possible for DIPG tumours. 

These are very rare affecting around 30 children a year in the U.K.  Children diagnosed are usually around the age of 5 years old. Ependymomas and are the third most common type of childhood brain tumour. 

Sometimes simply referred to as Glioma, Ependymomas  are usually found in posterior fossa and are slow growing and less likely to spread. 

Germ cell tumours are fast growing, ‘malignant’ tumours. They grow from cells that are involved in our growth when we are developing in the womb. Germ cells form part of the embryo and develop into the reproductive system.

Most germ cell tumours occur outside the brain, but those that do grow in the brain are most often in the area close to the pituitary gland and the pineal gland at the base of the brain. These are called ‘intracranial germ cell tumours’. They are also called embryonal tumours.

Glioma. – Over half of all brain tumours are gliomas. They develop from glial cells,  the supporting cells in the brain or spinal cord

Haemangioblastoma – usually affecting the cerebellum and sometimes the brain stem they are rare and slow-growing.

One of the most common brain tumours in children aged between 3 and 8 years old.  It is a high-grade tumour that develops in the cerebellum area of the posterior fossa, controlling coordination and balance.

Meningioma – Nearly 25% of all brain tumours are meningiomas.  They are usually low-grade, slow-growing tumours that start in the tissues that cover the brain and spinal cord.

Pineoblastomas -these are high grade (grade 4), tumours that are fast growing in the pineal region of the brain. They develop from cells and are commonly found above the pituitary gland and close to the hypothalamus.   It originates from embryonal cells which were left behind from the time the person was a developing fetus. Normal Healthy embryonal cells go on to help in the growth of body parts such as the pineal gland and retina. Pineoblastomas are caused by these cells dividing incorrectly causing an abnormal growth or tumour

Primary central nervous system lymphoma – Lymphomas  (a cancer of the Lymphatic system) that starts in the brain or spinal cord, they are rare and usually grow quickly.

Symptoms to watch out for

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Testing For Cancer

If a doctor suspects a child has a brain tumour, they will refer them to a paediatrician for tests, which may include

Childhood brain tumours are relatively rare.

Childhood brain tumours are thankfully relatively rare.

1500 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in the UK, of these, around 400 children are diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Most of the time symptoms that your child may show that cause you concern will not be due to a brain tumour.

However, it is important to talk to your doctor if you are concerned.

What are the Symptoms of a Childhood brain tumour ?

Symptoms of brain tumours can vary from child to child.

Symptoms can often mimic relatively minor childhood illnesses.

Common symptoms of brain tumours

Taking Your Child to a G.P if you suspect a brain tumour

If your child has one or more of the symptoms listed, or you are concerned, you should take them to see a Doctor as soon as possible.

Explain your worries about the symptoms being a sign of a possible brain tumour.

If your child is exhibiting two or more of the symptoms listed, ask the Doctor for an urgent referral, meaning  your child will be given an appointment with a specialist who can look into the cause of the symptoms.

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