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The HeadSmart campaign

HeadSmart: be brain tumour aware is a UK-wide campaign to reduce diagnosis times of childhood brain tumours, reducing long term disabilities and ultimately saving lives.

HeadSmart: be brain tumour aware is a major UK wide campaign from The Brain Tumour Charity, which was developed in collaboration with the Children's Brain Tumour Research Centre at The University of Nottingham and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

It is led and funded by The Brain Tumour Charity and received additional funding during the development and launch phase from the Heatlhcare Foundation.

HeadSmart is supported by a wide range of other organisations including the Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Radiologists, the College of Emergency Medicine and the Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group. It was recently shortlisted for a British Medical Journal Improving Health Award.

HeadSmart's aims

Brain tumours are the leading cause of childhood cancer deaths in the UK. Around 500 children and young people in the UK are diagnosed each year. Diagnosis times of childhood brain tumours are longer in the UK than in many other countries.

Based on scientific research into the causes of these delays, funded by The Brain Tumour Charity, the HeadSmart campaign aims to reduce diagnosis times to under five weeks to reduce long-term disability and ultimately save lives.

HeadSmart is raising national awareness of the common signs and symptoms of a brain tumour in children and young people by equipping parents, the public and healthcare professionals with information they need.

HeadSmart provides a range of practical resources for both public and professionals - find out more.

History of the campaign

  • HeadSmart has a long history. We were hearing regular stories of late/missed diagnoses, including that of our Founders. It took 9 months to diagnose Samantha.
  • 2003-2006: The research was carried out by the University of Nottingham and guidelines for healthcare professionals were developed
  • 2007: 'Diagnosis of Brain Tumours in Children' guideline for healthcare professionals was published
  • 2010: Funding received from the Healthcare Foundation, allowing us to develop a public awareness campaign
  • June 2011 we launched ‘HeadSmart’ – the campaigning element of the project
  • NHS Evidence accreditation was received for the guideline
  • June 2012: we launched our mobile symptoms guide. Text SMART to 81400
  • In February 2013 the campaign won the prestigious NHS Innovation Challenge Prize in the Earlier Cancer Diagnosis category
  • By June 2013, the campaign had distributed over half a million symptoms cards throughout the UK
  • In September 2013, the campaign was awarded best charity partnership at the Third Sector Excellence Awards

Reducing diagnosis times

  • The original research found average diagnosis times (the time between first symptom and diagnosis) to be 13 weeks in the UK
  • Following publication of the guideline for healthcare professionals this started to be reduced - research at the time of the public launch of HeadSmart showed this to have been reduced to 9.1 weeks
  • Just one year after the HeadSmart launch we had reduced this further to 7.5 weeks
  • In July 2013 we were able to announce a further reduction to 6.9 weeks.
  • We aim for it to be under 5 weeks to be on a par with, or better than, the rest of the world.

Find out more about HeadSmart's impact

HeadSmart logo

HeadSmart materials

HeadSmart's impact

Two years on, we have made a significant impact on diagnosis times. Find out about the tools we use to raise awareness.

Find out more
HeadSmart in the news

HeadSmart in the news

Our HeadSmart campaign has received UK-wide coverage in different media

Read/watch the coverage
HeadSmart materials

How you can support HeadSmart

From distributing Symptoms Cards, sharing your story or fundraising for HeadSmart, our campaign needs you

How to get involved

HeadSmart on Facebook

Like HeadSmart

HeadSmart on Twitter

Follow HeadSmart

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