The HeadSmart campaign

HeadSmart: be brain tumour aware 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 under five weeks.

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.

We engage with organisations across a range of sectors to promote HeadSmart and raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of brain tumours. This includes schools, optometrists and corporate partners like Toys 'R' Us.

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 6.7 weeks. We want to reduce diagnosis times to under 5 weeks to be on a par with, or better than, the rest of the world.


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.


You can volunteer with us to help raise awareness of the symptoms of childhood brain tumours in your area, by ensuring that HeadSmart symptom cards are available in schools, GP surgeries and other community centres. We have developed guidance to help you engage with your local council and Member of Parliament and can offer further support if you require it.

If you would like more information on how to help make the change and get HeadSmart resources distributed in your area then please contact