Additional information for healthcare professionals
Approximately ten children and young people are diagnosed with a brain tumour each week.
The HeadSmart campaign is designed to help healthcare professionals and the public recognise the signs and symptoms that may be indicative of brain tumours in children and young people (up to the age of 18), and to act on them appropriately.
The latest evidence suggests that children in the UK with a brain tumour take longer to be diagnosed than children in other countries. There are multiple factors affecting the time taken to reach a diagnosis; however, there is evidence that some children and young people with brain tumours are seen by healthcare professionals multiple times with symptoms and signs that occur with brain tumours and not appropriately referred or investigated. We recognise that healthcare professionals have a difficult job to do in assessing children's health and making judgements about the appropriate course of action. This website is intended to support healthcare professionals in the assessments of children and young people presenting with symptoms and signs that could be due to a brain tumour.
The initial symptoms of brain tumours often mimic those of more common and less serious childhood conditions and illnesses. This website and supporting HeadSmart materials highlight the particular symptoms and signs and presentation patterns that may indicate a brain tumour. Diagnosing a brain tumour requires brain imaging (preferably an MRI scan): the HeadSmart website provides advice as to when children and young people (and their families and carers) with symptoms and signs that may occur with a brain tumour should be reassured, reviewed / referred or scanned. The advice on the HeadSmart website is based upon that in the evidence-based guideline 'Diagnosis of Brain Tumours in Children', which has been appraised and endorsed by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. In addition, the guideline was produced using a process accredited by NHS Evidence.
The HeadSmart website is written to provide advice for all healthcare professionals caring for children. The majority of children and young people with brain tumour are seen by general practitioners, paediatricians and emergency medicine doctors; however, due to the varied presentation of brain tumours, other healthcare professionals may be referred children and young people with brain tumours.
For this reason, we have developed an online education module which has been designed to help all health professionals improve their knowledge of brain tumour presentation in children and young people and enable them to be more confident in recognising the signs and symptoms. It has received excellent feedback:-
“Interesting informative and definitely needed. I would like to forward this to all the paediatricians and GPs I know”
(Consultant Paediatrician specialising in Paediatric Oncology)
“Useful as a GP trainee”