No one wants to learn that there is something wrong with their child’s health, and this is most certainly the case for patients who suffer from Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). In this article, we are going to discuss all of the ins and outs of DIPG including what it is, what you need to know, symptoms to look out for, and treatment that can be utilized. Let’s get started:
• Identifying DIPG – What Is It?
Typically affecting children between the ages of 10 and younger, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma is a rare brain tumor that generally forms in the middle area of the brainstem. This area, also known as the Pons, controls many aspects of the body, including but not limited to breathing processes, as well as the stabilization of blood pressure.
• Important Things To Know About DIPG:
There are many aspects of DIPG that make it dangerous, and one of those reasons is that it is somewhat rare, especially in adult cases. However, in cases that emerge tend to occur equally between both boys and girls 10 and under. DIPG is known to originate in the glial cells in the brain, which are the connective cells of the brain. Although doctors are able to decipher where the tumor originates from, there is no known reason as to what causes DIPG in children.
• Symptoms To Look For:
Because the pons of the brainstem controls so many of the critical function within the body, as we said before, there are many different types of symptoms to look out for. Often more than not, DIPG tend to affect cranial nerve endings first, which is why symptoms to look out for include:
1. Difficulty with eye movement(s)
2. Hearing difficulties
3. Difficulty with functions of the mouth and throat (chewing and/or swallowing)
4. Limb and facial weakness
5. Nausea and/or vomiting
6. Constant headaches
As also mentioned before, DIPG causes the tumor in the brainstem to grow at a rapid rate, which also means that symptoms can appear and get worse at a faster rate as well.
Unfortunately, the treatment options for DIPG are slim as there are many factors making it difficult to treat. DIPG is still rare, and has not had much research conducted on it yet. Because of its placement, surgery is not often effective or successful in removing all of the tumors, not to mention that the majority of the time, the tumor is attached to normal brain tissue; In that sense, surgery could essentially cause more damage. With that said, the first treatment option that doctors turn to with DIPG is radiation therapy in attempts to shrink the tumor and keep cancer at a slower rate for the time being. There are also clinical trials that can be used in treating DIPG.
Because DIPG is still a rare condition, there are many physicians working to find out more answers to help treat and prevent these tumors from occurring in children. If you are wary that your child may be suffering from DIPG, or your child is showing some of the symptoms of DIPG, contact your family pediatrician and/or family doctor for a consultation to discuss your concerns.