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8 June 2011, 06:00
A new campaign is being launched to help parents and health professionals spot the signs of brain tumours in children and young people. HeadSmart is being piloted in the East Midlands and aims to speed up diagnosis rates and raise awareness of brain tumour symptoms.
Ryan Lee, from Kimberley in Nottingham, was 15 when he died of a brain tumour a year ago. Today his parents Shaun and Deb have told Capital how they went for nearly 6 months without doctors, schools or themselves realising how ill there son was.
" Ryan often complained in the morning of getting a headache that his body aches , he felt tired and there was a noticeable change in his attitude and behaviour at home. Ryan was a very intelligent and happy boy at school, he wanted to be a Maths teacher, he had started organising his GCSE's but Ryan started to get a lot of detentions, lost concentration easily and became disruptive in class i.e. talking a lot, being silly, Much of Ryan's attitude, behaviour and his personality changes were dismissed by the School, us and many others as just typical teenage behaviour and him being at "that age". “
They also noticed how he had grown very quickly in a short space of time causing bad stretch marks, and became left handed rather than right, and that his facial expression changed. If the signs had been spotted earlier, Ryan would have begun treatment sooner, but the severity of his tumour would not have changed the eventual outcome.
Around 500 children and young people a year are diagnosed with a brain tumour — nearly 10 a week and a quarter of all child cancers occur in the brain. Survival rates have improved over the past 20 years but brain tumours remain the leading cause of cancer deaths in children. The symptoms of a brain tumour can often be similar to those of other illnesses; as a result they are frequently mistaken for less serious conditions. It can take up to three months for a child to be diagnosed in the UK , three times longer than in the United States and Canada.
HeadSmart is a new joint campaign by the Children's Brain Tumour Research Centre at The University of Nottingham, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and the Samantha Dickson Brain Tumour Trust that aims to raise awareness of brain tumour symptoms by helping parents and health professionals spot the signs of brain tumours in children and young people.
To do this the HeadSmart campaign has launched a range of resources, including a new website, leaflets and a pocket-sized ‘symptoms card’. These provide information for doctors, parents, carers and young people about how to spot the signs of a possible brain tumour. These are available online from today. The HeadSmart campaign is being launched nationally but is being evaluated in the East Midlands’ Health Services.
Professor David Walker, Professor of Paediatric Oncology at the Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre, said:Brain tumours are fortunately rare, but they do happen, and it can be difficult for doctors to diagnose because the symptoms can often mimic less serious illnesses. Parents have no need to worry if their child occasionally experiences headaches, for example, but if symptoms come back frequently or are present for two weeks or more, see your family doctor. The most important thing is that parents and family doctors know the symptoms of child brain tumours and make sure that possible cases are diagnosed as quickly as possible.
For more information have a click on the link at the top of the article.