Category Archives: Brain Cancer

What is the Expected Life Span of Childhood Brain Tumour Cancer?


Brain Cancer Awareness RibbonWhat is my child’s prognosis?” This seemingly simple but critical question is often among the first that parents will ask their child’s oncologist after hearing that their child has been diagnosed with cancer.

Yet, while the question may be simple, answering it can be extremely complicated. In general terms, oncologists can provide statistics relating to 5-year survival rates for many different types of brain tumours in children.

These general statistics, however, cannot predict an outcome for any one child. Each child’s individual prognosis will depend on the unique circumstances of their tumor and its response to treatment.

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Why do Some Children Develop Brain Tumours?


Any time a child is diagnosed with a brain tumour or, truth be told, any type of cancer, the most obvious question many parents ask is “Why? What caused my child to develop a brain tumour?”

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question.

Scientists now believe that the vast majority of brain tumours in children are the result of random gene mutations but have no satisfying answer as to why a particular gene mutation occurred or why it led to the growth of a brain tumour.

Whether benign or malignant, a tumour grows when certain cells grow, divide, and replicate more quickly than normal cells and/or they do not die when they are aged or damaged. These abnormal cells then begin to build up in the brain, forming clumps or a mass, and eventually growing large enough to press on or cause damage to the healthy brain tissue.

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New Hope for Fatal Childhood Brain Cancer (DIPG)?


Brain tumours are hard to treat. But even this is a harrowing understatement for some forms of the disease.

Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is one such example. These rare brain tumours almost exclusively affect children, and they’re invariably fatal.

Almost all children with DIPG sadly die within a couple of years of diagnosis,” says Professor Chris Jones from the Institute of Cancer Research, London, a Cancer Research UK-funded expert on the disease.

There aren’t any effective treatments.”

One of the main reasons that the outlook for DIPG is so poor is down to where it grows in the brain. These tumours start in the brainstem, which lies at the base of the brain and hooks up the spinal cord with deeper brain regions. This crucial piece of machinery controls many of the body’s vital processes, such as breathing and our heart beat.

That means surgery – a cornerstone treatment for many cancers – is out of the question. Drugs are also notoriously ineffective for brain tumours, because most are shut out by the protective blood brain barrier.

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Computerised Cognitive Training: Brain Games & Brain Training


Children may not experience the same brain tumour side effects and symptoms as adults.

Because their brains and bodies are still growing, they may experience symptoms and side effects that are unique to their age and stage of development.

Children, adolescents and young adults with brain tumors generally experience various side-effects from brain cancer, including Physical Side Effects, Eating and Nutrition Issues, Changes in Physical Appearance, Cognitive and Emotional Side Effects, as well as Long-Term or Late Effects.

Neurocognitive problems are an unfortunate potential side effect of childhood brain tumours. These can vary widely, and can affect intellectual ability, academic achievement, memory and attention.

Potential problems can be assessed by a pediatric neuro-psychologist who can help determine the types of issues that need to be addressed and their treatments.

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Foodie Friday: Diet and Nutrition During Brain Cancer Treatment


In the past, you may have promised yourself that you and your family will start eating a more healthy and nutritious diet – now is the time to put that promise into action.

Eating well can combat fatigue, help your child feel better, and keep their body strong so that they can cope more easily with the side effects of their treatment. It can also help your child heal and recover more readily from their cancer treatment.

Your child’s reaction to food may differ from other children who have the exact same diagnosis – some children continue to enjoy eating and maintain a strong appetite. Others want to eat well but are unable to do so. Feelings of fear and anxiety may complicate the desire to eat.

Nausea, in particular, can interfere with eating well. During treatment, some children may experience nausea or vomiting while others may never have either. If your child feels sick to his/her stomach between meals, it may help for them to eat six to eight small meals during the day rather than three large meals. Avoid giving them foods that are very sweet, greasy, fried or emit a strong smell.

And finally, keep in mind that your child’s dietary changes do not have to be dramatic. Begin with the item that is easiest for them or your family, then choose another after a few weeks, and then another. Before you know it, your whole family will have moved into a healthier eating pattern.

 

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Foodie Friday: Malnutrition & Brain Tumour Patients


Malnutrition at the diagnosis of cancer is not an uncommon finding in the developing world.

Malnutrition describes the consequences of insufficient protein-energy intake. Malnutrition is an unspecific term used to define an inadequate nutritional condition. It is characterized by either a deficiency or an excess of energy with measurable adverse effects on clinical outcome. 

Malnutrition describes the consequences of insufficient protein-energy intake. An adequate protein-energy balance is a prerequisite for age-appropriate growth and maintenance.

Nutrition is very important for Children with Cancer, because the presence of the tumour as well as the treatments that they undergo play havoc with their immune systems as well as various other systems in their little bodies.

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Are there Risk Factors for Brain Cancer in Children?


A risk-factor is anything that affects a person’s chance of getting a disease such as brain cancer.

Different types of cancer have different risk factors, and this article only deals with the potential risk-factors for brain cancer.

Lifestyle-related risk-factors such as diet, body weight, physical activity, and tobacco use play a major role in many adult cancers, but these factors usually take many years to influence cancer risk, therefore logic says that they do not have much of a role in childhood cancers, including brain tumours.

Very few risk factors have been found for brain and spinal cord tumours. There is no clear cause for most of these tumours.

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FOODIE FRIDAY: Nutritious Recipes for Children with Brain Cancer


Nutrition is very important for Children with Cancer, because the presence of the tumour as well as the treatments that they undergo play havoc with their immune systems as well as various other systems in their little bodies.

A malignant tumour leads to changes in a child’s metabolism; their system is unable to regulate the expenditure of energy according to the reduced energy intake, leading to an ineffective use of nutrients and contributing to the development of malnutrition. Malnutrition can lead to lower survival rates in children with brain cancer.

Children with cancer, especially those with solid tumours, have reduced body protein stores due to whole body protein breakdown. This may occur as a result of the cancer itself, the treatment they are undergoing for their tumour, or complications of the disease.

 

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Why & How are Brain Tumours Graded?


Brain tumours are the most common solid tumour in children under the age of 15.

When discovered early enough, brain tumours are usually treatable. Many that are slow-growing are cured with surgery alone. Other types that are faster-growing might need additional treatment with radiation therapy or chemotherapy, or both.

Brain tumours are graded on a scale of 1 to 4, based on how malignant, or cancerous, they are – that is, how abnormal their cells appear under a microscope.

A grade of 1 is the least malignant, and 4 is the most malignant.

A tumour may contain cells of different grades, but it is classified by its highest-grade cells.

The purpose of the brain tumour grading system is to indicate the tumour’s likely growth rate and how likely it is to spread within the brain– information used in predicting outcomes and treatment planning.

Brain tumours are graded and classified by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Grades are often assigned to gliomas, which are tumours that develop in the supporting glial cells of the brain or spine. Gliomas make up about 30% of all brain and central nervous system tumours, and about 80% of all malignant brain tumours.

The most common malignant brain tumours are glioblastomas.

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Side Effects of Childhood Brain Cancer


Childhood Brain Tumours are different to Adult Brain Tumours because their brains are still growing and developing.

This means that the side effects that childhood cancer sufferers experience will generally be unique to their age and stage of development.

The side-effects of a brain tumour can be taxing on both the child and the parents, as well as the family and even teachers and classmates.

It is important therefore that you take note of how your child is feeling and what problems they are experiencing and that you talk to them about it – remember though that they may not feel like discussing what they are going through.

It is also important the you discuss any side-effects with their oncology team, who should be able to help or refer you to professionals who can help.

 

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