Around 500 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer each year in the UK. Meaning around 46% are diagnosed with some form of tumour and more than 25% of these cases are central nervous system tumours which includes AT/RT.
Unfortunately any type of cancer can spread and become much worse within a matter of weeks to a few days so it is extremely important to know the signs and symptoms and to visit your GP surgery or your local A&E department if you have a concern.
Headaches:- Brain tumours are caused by a build up of pressure in the brain. This could be due to the tumour pressing on blood vessels and nerves or blocking the cerebrospinal fluid flow within the brain.
Signs to look out for:- Your child has a persistent headache which occurs regularly. They may be experiencing other symptoms alongside the headaches such as vomiting or a difference in their vision. The headaches frequently occur when your child wakes up. Headaches that wake your child whilst sleeping or your child becomes less alert and tired more often.
Vision:- Visual abnormalities such as abnormal eye movements or changes to a child's vision can be caused by a tumour. But not all vision symptoms are related to a child having a tumour. Please speak to an eye specialist to book an appointment as soon as possible.
Signs to look out for:- Eyes flickering, quivering or wobbly. Double vision or blurred vision. Complaining of headaches or vomiting at the same time. A squint or if the eyes look in different directions. If a child starts to read a book closer than normal or watching TV much closer than they usually do. A reduced ability to focus on items or people. Their balance may become affected because of these symptoms such as bumping into things or stumbling.
Abnormal head position:- A tumour can cause an abnormal head position.
Signs to look out for:- Your child may develop a head tilt. They will hold their head or neck in an unusual way. They may struggle to turn or twist their head or neck to look in a particular direction.
Nausea:- Feeling nausea or vomiting frequently may be a sign of a tumour. Especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms such as headaches.
Signs to look out for:- If your child is vomiting or feeling nausea regularly. If your child is not suffering with a high temperature or diarrhoea. If your child is being awaken whilst sleeping.
Hearing:- Some tumours may cause hearing problems such as ringing of the ears, loss of hearing or imbalance.
Signs to look out for:- Hearing loss gradual or suddenly. Ringing of the ears regularly. Unsteadiness, loss of balance or dizziness. Your hearing may be impaired along with other symptoms.
Tiredness:- If a child or young person is unresponsive or is less responsive than they usually are, this can be caused by a brain tumour.
Signs to look out for:- Reduced response to a noise or a person's voice. Often feeling confused or dazed. Sleeping pattern changes suddenly. Increased sleep or less sleep if suffering with other symptoms such as pain.
Appetite:- A loss of appetite for a long period of time can be a sign of a tumour along with other symptoms. Feeling nausea or vomiting frequently will affect your appetite.
Signs to look out for:- A sudden change in how much your child eats during the day. Refusing to eat their favourite foods or refusing to eat at all.
Balance:- A reduction in motor skills for any child or young person can be a cause of a tumour. Sometimes the pressure from the tumour can cause pain or discomfort to a part of the body.
Signs to look out for:- Your child may start to struggle doing things such as running, walking or crawling. Their co-ordination suddenly changes, falling, bumping into things or stumbling frequently. They may start to cry or complain of pain and is frustrated by what they are struggling to do as normal.
Behaviour Changes:- Tumours can cause behaviour changes amongst children and young people. In most cases it causes tiredness and lack of energy. A child may start to show signs of being in pain or other symptoms as well.
Signs to look out for:- Becoming more tired than usual. Easily irritated or taking longer periods of time to rest. Lack of interest in doing things especially their favourite activities. Reports of a child feeling frequently tired at school.
Seizures:- Brain tumours can cause seizures quite early on. If they are accompanied by any of the other symptoms, it's very important to take your child to the A&E department immediately.
Signs to look out for:- During a seizure a child may or may not be unconscious. They may become absent and will be silent. Their eyes may flicker to and from frantically. Some parts of their body or the whole of their body will jerk or twitch.
Bladder changes:- Some tumour locations in parts of the body can cause bladder changes. This may be because the tumour is pushing against nerves and this makes it harder to go to the toilet when needed.
Signs to look out for:- Frequently struggling to go to the toilet when needed too. Your child struggles to pass stools accompanied by any of the other symptoms. Your child may complain of pain or abdomen pains. The child or young person's stomach may become bloated suddenly.
Delayed Puberty:- Tumours that damage the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus, which affect maturation can cause a delay in puberty for both girls and boys.
Signs to look out for:- For girls lack of any breast development by the age of 12. Failure to begin menstrual period by the age of 15. And for boys lack of testicular enlargement by the age of 14. These symptoms will be accompanied by others which will indicate your child may have some form of cancer.
Growth:- Babies, children and young adults all grow differently as they get older but if their growth is delayed significantly then this may be a cause of some type of tumour.
Signs to look out for:- Delayed puberty in young adults. Excessive or lack of urine production, thirst or appetite. Normally this symptom will be accompanied by other symptoms.