Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Enabling Timely Diagnosis of Brain Tumours in Children

Worldwide, tumours of the brain (and other parts of the central nervous system) constitute nearly 25% of all childhood cancer (second only to acute leukaemias). Their incidence in India is lower and this is partly related to underdiagnosis as a result of inadequate neuro-radiological and neuro-surgical facilities (Ref - Arora et al, Indian Journal of Cancer, Oct-Dec 2009)

Presenting features of the brain tumour depend on the age of the child as well as the location of the tumour in the brain. However, they can be varied and include headache, nausea/vomiting, visual changes, motor changes, seizures, altered sensorium and others. The non-specificity of some of these symptoms can lead to a delay in parents seeking medical advice and in physicians reaching a diagnosis. These delays can have negative impact on outcomes.

The Children's Brain Tumour Research Centre in Nottingham University has developed evidence-based guidelines to help clinicians recognise and diagnose brain tumours in children in a timely fashion. These guideline have application across all settings and populations including in the Indian context and deserve to be widely disseminated.

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