Paediatric brain tumour is not the end of the world; neither for the parents nor for the patient. In India, reports indicate that over 2,500 children every year suffer from brain tumour. Experts advice that early treatment can help the child grow normally and live a long, healthy life.
“Retrospective studies have shown that paediatric brain tumour accounts for 10 to 21% of total intracranial tumours. In our experience, the number of paediatric brain tumour cases has risen significantly in the past few years. It is important that parents are aware that early treatment can help the patient to not only survive, but prevent any long-term damage, thereby increasing possibilities of leading a longer, safe life,” said Dr Akash Mishra, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ghaziabad.
Brain tumours can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). According to the National Cancer Registry data, frequency of cases in paediatric brain tumours varies from zero percent to 2.11%.
Dr. Mishra added, “Brain tumours in children are a collection of neoplasms that differ in origin depending on the cell involved. Treatment and clinical outcome of each tumour is also different. However, clinical feature or symptoms in most of the cases have a common trait — vomiting and severe headache which is usually unbearable during the morning, along with seizures, poor coordination, headache, and a rapidly enlarging head (specifically in babies and young toddlers). Often these signs are confused by parents with the symptoms of gastrointestinal diseases or other causes which may delay diagnosis.”
The symptoms appear as the tumour presses the nerves in the brain creating tremendous pressure in the skull. Tumours can damage the brain, cause fluid build-up and swelling in the brain. “There is an average survival rate of five years in patients with brain tumour. Early detection of the disease plays a crucial role in deciding the line of treatment. The earlier a tumour is detected, the lesser the chances for it to grow in size. Every year, over 2,50,000 people are detected with primary brain tumour around the globe, accounting for over two percent of all malignancies occurrence,” said Arunima Patel, iGenetic Diagnostics.
In India, every year 40,000-50,000 peoples are diagnosed with a brain tumour, of which 20% are children. The increase is alarming as just a few years back, the data pointed at only 5% of pediatric brain tumour occurrence.
“This may be because of increasing awareness. Advance testing methods have also made testing more cost-effective. This helps clinicians to identify the line of treatment for the patient. The symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis vary depending on the type and location of the tumour. Each tumour has unique clinical features, so the plan of treatment cannot be general in nature,” concluded Patel.
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