Diagnostic delay of pediatric brain tumors in Israel: a retrospective risk factor analysis

Childs Nerv Syst. 2012 Jan;28(1):93-100. doi: 10.1007/s00381-011-1564-0. Epub 2011 Aug 26.

Abstract

Purpose: Pediatric brain tumors (PBTs) are the most common solid tumors and the leading cause of cancer-related morbidity and mortality in childhood. Previous studies have shown a significant delay between the onset of symptoms and the diagnosis of these tumors. Delayed diagnosis of PBTs may lead to acute situations and irreversible neurological damage. In this study, we looked for the incidence of delayed diagnosis of PBTs in Israel. We tried to find the reasons for these delays and the associated risk factors in order to provide a feedback to the system for improved education and earlier diagnosis.

Methods: We analyzed the charts of 330 consecutive children aged 0-18 years diagnosed with brain tumors, between the years 1996 and 2004. In the cases where delay in diagnosis was suspected, further information was collected from a family interview.

Results: The average "time to diagnosis" was 7.7 months (SD ± 16.7). Symptomatic deterioration from the first symptom until diagnosis was found in about 50% of the cases. Unacceptable delay in diagnosis was found in 27% of the children. The major reason for delay was "delay in indicated imaging." Symptoms that were found to be associated with delayed diagnosis were torticollis, ataxia, and motor dysfunction. Interestingly, the examination by specialists such as ophthalmologists or neurologists was also associated with delayed diagnosis.

Conclusions: There is an unacceptable rate of delay in the diagnostic process of PBTs in Israel. Greater awareness and familiarity with signs and symptoms associated with these tumors and lowering imaging threshold might minimize this phenomenon.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Delayed Diagnosis / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Israel
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors