Michael Fabricant is supporting a national ‘HeadSmart Campaign’ organised by The Brain Tumour Charity, to raise awareness amongst parents and healthcare professionals of the symptoms of brain tumours in young people and children. Michael says:
“I attended an event in the House of Commons hosted by The Brain Tumour Charity and The Danny Green Fund to learn first-hand how to recognise the symptoms. The Charity showed me the resources they have developed, including symptoms cards and an innovative smartphone app to help people recognise the symptoms of a brain tumour. I also had the chance to meet Lauren Pearson from Yoxall who suffered for some years from an undiagnosed brain tumour, her sister Jessica and their father. It was fascinating to chat to them all, but the lack of early diagnosis made me feel very angry.
"Around 500 children and young people are diagnosed with a brain tumour each year, nearly ten a week. This more than those who develop childhood leukaemia. Early diagnosis is absolutely crucial. Symptoms of a brain tumour can present in children in such a way that they are frequently mistaken for less serious conditions such as viral infection, fatigue, migraine, depression, or even hay fever.
"The main warning signs that parents should look out for are: persistent or recurrent vomiting, persistent or recurrent headaches, blurred or double vision, poor balance and co-ordination, abnormal eye movements, fits or seizures, behavioural changes like tiredness, and abnormal head position such as a wry neck, head tilt or stiff neck.
"All parents to get hold of the symptoms cards or download the smartphone app, as well as to be watchful for the symptoms. If they persist, they need to raise their concerns with their GP as soon as possible."
Vice Chairman of The Brain Tumour Charity, Neil Dickson, said: "We are very glad that Michael could join us to raise awareness of this very important issue. It took 9 months for my daughter Samantha to be diagnosed with a brain tumour. Having received many calls from parents who experienced similar delays, my wife Angela and I strongly believed that more had to be done to reduce the time taken for a diagnosis.
“That is why The Brain Tumour Charity started the HeadSmart campaign together with our partner organisations, who are all leaders in this field. Tragically this comes too late for Samantha, but by increasing the awareness of symptoms among parents and healthcare professionals, it doesn’t need to be too late for others."
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 more 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".
Michael adds: “To find out more about the symptoms of brain tumours in young people or more about the national HeadSmart Campaign visit www.headsmart.org.uk or you can text SMART to 81400 for a free mobile app guide to brain tumour symptoms.”
Photograph shows (left to right) Dr Sophie Wilne (Consultant Paediatric Oncologist, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust), Michael, Lauren Pearson, and her sister Jessica.