We used data from MOBI-Kids, a 14-country international collaborative case-control study of brain tumors (BTs), to study clinical characteristics of the tumors in older children (10 years or older), adolescents and young adults (up to the age of 24).
Information from clinical records was obtained for 899 BT cases, including signs and symptoms, symptom onset, diagnosis date, tumor type and location.
Overall, 64% of all tumors were low-grade, 76% were neuroepithelial tumors and 62% gliomas. There were more males than females among neuroepithelial and embryonal tumor cases, but more females with meningeal tumors. The most frequent locations were cerebellum (22%) and frontal (16%) lobe. The most frequent symptom was headaches (60%), overall, as well as for gliomas, embryonal and ‘non-neuroepithelial’ tumors; it was convulsions/seizures for neuroepithelial tumors other than glioma, and visual signs and symptoms for meningiomas. A cluster analysis showed that headaches and nausea/vomiting was the only combination of symptoms that exceeded a cutoff of 50%, with a joint occurrence of 67%. Overall, the median time from first symptom to diagnosis was 1.42 months (IQR 0.53-4.80); it exceeded 1 year in 12% of cases, though no particular symptom was associated with exceptionally long or short delays.
This is the largest clinical epidemiology study of BT in young people conducted so far. Many signs and symptoms were identified, dominated by headaches and nausea/vomiting. Diagnosis was generally rapid but in 12% diagnostic delay exceeded 1 year with none of the symptoms been associated with a distinctly long time until diagnosis.