Improving Brain Tumour Care surveys share your experiences and help create change

The HeadSmart campaign

HeadSmart is a UK-wide campaign to reduce diagnosis times of childhood brain tumours.

Brain tumours (or brain tumors as they are known internationally) 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 brain tumour and brain cancer diagnosis times to four weeks or less.

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. This is achieved through the distribution of symptom cards and posters to raise awareness of symptoms, and the promotion of a clinical guideline and training module for health professionals.

HeadSmart’s impact

Before the launch of HeadSmart, average diagnosis times for children with brain tumours in the UK was 13 weeks. After publication of the guidelines for healthcare professionals in 2011, this was reduced to 9.1 weeks. Following the public launch this was reduced to 7.5 weeks in 2012, 6.9 weeks in 2013, and most recently 6.5 weeks. We want to reduce diagnosis times to four weeks or less to be on a par with, or better than, the rest of the world.

Sacha shares her story, and talks about symptoms of a brain tumour and the HeadSmart campaign.

Sacha Langton-Gilks lost her 16-year-old son David (known as DD), to a brain tumour in 2012. She is lead champion for the HeadSmart campaign.


HeadSmart 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 Healthcare 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 shortlisted for a British Medical Journal Improving Health Award.


Join HeadSmart and help raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of brain tumours. Find out how you can advocate for the HeadSmart campaign.

Signs and symptoms

Sam, named after Samantha Dickson, introduces the most up to date symptoms, as you can see from our video.