It is about the disease which took away Eva, in January 2011, like 50 children / year in France. Brainstem tumors are tumors of the central nervous system belonging to the glioma family. This region of the brain that sits above the spinal cord is responsible for many vital functions, including vision, balance, strength, pharyngeal reflex, coughing, and swallowing. The tumor, depending on its size and location, can affect one or more of these functions.
Tumors located at the bridge affect the cranial nerves. They then cause symptoms related to the nerves that govern the muscles of the eye and face or involved in ingestion. Concretely this can result in strabismus, double vision, an inability to close the eyelids completely, difficulty chewing or swallowing ... The tumor also affects the "long passages" of the brain, which implies weakness in the arms or legs. legs, difficulty speaking, walking. In many cases, the symptoms worsen as the tumor grows quickly.
Tumors that arise in the peduncle usually affect the nerves controlling the muscles of the eye. They also block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and increase intracranial pressure resulting in frequent headaches and vomiting.
Tumors affecting the bulb usually cause swallowing problems and weaken the arms and legs. The signs presented by the child can be diffuse and progressive: a dragging torticollis, headaches, pain in the lower head and neck, problems with walking, balance, paralysis of the face, of the eye when the cranial nerves are affected.
In France, children with brainstem tumors are either offered palliative treatment (radiotherapy), and possibly a biopsy (for scientific research) or participate in a clinical trial , as currently BIOMEDE. Unfortunately, over the past 40 years, none of them has improved the expectation of recovery.
Abroad, certain pathways are being investigated, sometimes allowing a marked improvement in survival expectancy: targeted surgical interventions, immunotherapy, etc.
Improving the resources dedicated to pediatric oncopediatrics research associated with strengthened collaboration between international teams could improve the survival of children with cancers that are now incurable in children.