Being Head Smart

You see a 15 year old who attends the Emergency Department with a persistent headache.  They have read an article in a newspaper and since then they're concerned they have a brain tumour.  They ask you what you'd look for in case it was a brain tumour.  You wonder where you'd go to find this information.  You'd like some support and don't know where to look.

The Brain Tumour Charity was formed in 2013.  HeadSmart UK-wide campaign based on research funded by The Brain Tumour Charity at The University of Nottingham.  It has fantastic resources on its website.  The focus is on spotting the red flags of brain tumours and how as clinicians we refer and how urgently.

  • Same day referral from primary care if high risk of brain tumour/life threatening symptoms
  • 2 week referral if lower risk but on differential list


In the latest Take Aurally podcast we were lucky to have Dr Shaarna Shan from HeadSmart join Jamie and Dr Colin Gilhooley our resident Paediatric SpR to discuss the charity, its formation and the diagnosis and referral process of Paediatric brain tumours.  

Learning Points 

  1. Consider brain tumours in any child with headache, visual disturbance, motor signs and symptoms, growth and endocrine symptoms, increasing head circumference, behavioural change, diabetes insipidus, seizures or altered GCS
  2. Remember symptoms can fluctuate
  3. Ask about pre-disposing conditions - personal or family history of brain tumours, sarcoma, leukaemia or early onset breast cancer; Tuberous sclerosis, Neurofibromatosis or other familial genetic syndromes

Remember to check out the HeadSmart website this catchy tune: