Dominic was only four months old when he was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2010. Glioblastoma (GBM) is ...
Brain and spinal tumours (otherwise known as Central Nervous System or CNS tumours) arise from different types of cells in the brain and are classified according to the cell type and area of the CNS in which they began. Most CNS tumours start in glial cells – the supporting cells of the brain. These tumours are known as gliomas and include astrocytomas, ependymomas and oligodendrogliomas.
Another group of tumours arise from embryonal cells. These tumours include medulloblastoma and PNET (primitive neuro-ectodermal tumour). Altogether there are more than 100 different types of brain tumour, most of which are very rare.
Tumours classified as low grade (benign) are very slow growing and remain in the part of the brain in which they started. High grade (malignant) brain tumours are likely to be more aggressive and to spread into the brain tissue which surrounds them. This can cause pressure and damage to the surrounding areas. For example, astrocytomas are themselves divided further into four grades:
- Grade 1: pilocytic astrocytoma;
- Grade 2: diffuse or low grade astrocytoma;
- Grade 3: anaplastic astrocytoma; and
- Grade 4: glioblastoma.
Over 400 children a year are diagnosed with brain, CNS or intracranial tumours in Great Britain (1). They are the second most common group of cancers and the most common group of solid tumours that occur in this age group, accounting for more than a quarter (26%) of all childhood cancers in Great Britain (1).
The average 5-year survival rate for children with brain and spinal tumours is 74% in England (2), but this figure varies widely between tumour subgroups.
In teenagers and young adults (those between 15 and 24 years old) the average 5-year survival rate of brain, other central nervous system (CNS) and intracranial tumours in the UK is 79.9% for young men and 82.5% for young women (3), but these figures vary widely between tumour subgroups.
Astrocytomas account for around 43% of children’s brain, CNS or intracranial tumours in Great Britain1 and have an average 5-year survival rate of 81% in England (2).
Childhood ependymomas and choroid plexus tumours have an average survival rate of 76% in England, and childhood medulloblastomas tumours have an average survival rate of 63% in England (2).
Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) is considered to be incurable. Sadly, most children die within months of diagnosis and fewer than 10% live longer than two years (4,5)
Brain, CNS and intracranial tumours are the greatest cancer-related cause of death in children in the UK, causing around 35% of cancer deaths (over 85 children per year) (6).Back to top