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Steroids for children

It is highly likely that your child will be given steroids at some point during their treatment to help reduce the symptoms caused by their brain tumour or its treatments.

Important points to remember about steroids used as part of brain tumour treatment.

  • They help with symptom management rather than treating the tumour itself.
  • It is important that your child keeps taking steroids for as long as their doctor tells them to. When taking steroids your child's body will start to produce less of its own steroids naturally, so stopping steroids suddenly can make your child unwell.
  • The steroids used for brain tumours are NOT the anabolic steroids that are used by some athletes to build muscle.

When and why might my child be given steroids?

After diagnosis

A brain tumour can cause some swelling to the surrounding areas of the brain and this may cause symptoms like headaches, sickness and seizures. To help reduce the swelling, your child's doctor may prescribe steroids. 

Steroids are fast-acting, which means the effects caused by the tumour can be reduce quickly. However, this does not mean, however, that the size of tumour itself has been reduced.

Before or after treatment

If your child is having radiotherapy or neurosurgery as part of their treatment, they may be given steroids to help bring down swelling caused by these treatments. Also, if your child is having chemotherapy, a low dosage of steroids may be given if they feel sick or nauseous. 

How will my child take steroids?

The most common way for children to take steroids is in tablet form. The tablets are small and should not be too difficult for your child to swallow.

Steroids may also be prescribed as a liquid medicine or, if your child is staying in the hospital or unable to take oral medication, as an injection.

How long will my child need to take steroids for?

Generally, your child will only take steroids for a few days or weeks. You will be given instructions from your child's doctor about exactly when and for how long your child will need to take steroids.

What if I forget to give my child their steroids?

If your child does miss a dose, do NOT try to compensate by giving them a double dose next time. Speak to your child's healthcare team to see what they advise.

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