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Headaches are very common and most children who have a headache will not have a brain tumour.

Children who have a headache caused by a brain tumour are likely to be experiencing other symptoms, so you should look out for these carefully.

When might a headache be a symptom of a brain tumour?

Brain tumour headaches are are caused by a build up of pressure in the brain. This could be due to the tumour pressing on blood vessels and nerves within the brain or blocking the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within the brain.

Headaches are a common symptom of brain tumours but will usually be accompanied by other symptoms.

Signs to look out for:

  • your child has a persistent headache which occurs regularly
  • your child is experiencing other symptoms, such as vomiting
  • the headaches are waking your child up while sleeping
  • the headaches frequently occur when your child wakes up
  • your child become tired, confused or less alert when they have the headache
  • sometimes it may be difficult for young children to explain how they are feeling. You may notice visual signs such as your child holding their head or neck.

If you are concerned about your child it is important to get them checked out by your GP or optician.

I think my child has a brain tumour, what should I do?

Brain tumours are rare, however, if you're worried, if a symptom persists or if your child has more than one of these symptoms then:

  • Talk to your doctor
    GP appointments are usually quite short, find out how to best prepare for your appointment
  • Get an eye test
    If your child's symptoms are limited to changes in vision and/or headaches, get their eyes tested by an optician before seeing your GP.

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How common are 
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Each year in the UK, approximately 4,300 people are diagnosed with low grade, slow growing brain tumours and 5,000 with high grade, fast growing brain tumours.

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This newly-created post is a significant boost for research into brain tumours in Manchester and the UK as a whole.

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These include The Christie, which has a specialised unit dedicated to clinical trials and strong partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry which help widen patients’ access to novel therapies.