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Brainstem gliomas are tumours which develop from glial cells within the brain stem.
Around 75% of brainstem gliomas are diagnosed in children and young adults under the age of twenty, but they can affect older adults as well.
The brain stem is the lowest part of the brain, at the back, and joins the brain to the spinal cord. It is responsible for many vital body functions that we don't need to think about. For example, motor skills, sensory activity, coordination and walking, the beating of the heart, and breathing.
Childhood brainstem gliomas can be low grade gliomas in one area of the brain stem (focal tumours) or, more commonly, diffuse, high grade tumours in the part of the brain stem called the pons. These are faster growing and tend to spread into the surrounding brain tissue. They are called DIPGs (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma).
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