A NEW national campaign to raise awareness of childhood brain tumours – the biggest cancer killer of children in the country – launches today in Dorset.

Bosses of Toys R Us will be at the Poole store to mark their support of The Brain Tumour Charity’s campaign, HeadSmart: Be Brain Tumour Aware.

The giant toy retailer will provide vital information to its customers at its 80 stores across the UK.

Sacha and Toby Langton-Gilks from Dorset, who lost their son DD to a brain tumour when he was just 16, were due to attend the launch.

Sacha said: “I was not aware of the symptoms. If I had I would have got my son to the GP three weeks earlier, which would have saved him nine brain operations and from dying with dementia.

“Every parent needs to be aware of the signs and symptoms of childhood brain tumours, which the HeadSmart campaign aims to do.”

Toys R Us will be distributing HeadSmart symptoms cards as part of the charity’s bid to reduce the length of time it takes to diagnose a childhood brain tumour.

Sarah Lindsell, CEO at The Brain Tumour Charity, said: “Five hundred children are diagnosed with a brain tumour each year in the UK.

“Of these, sadly a quarter will die. We see first-hand the heartbreak caused by the diagnosis of a brain tumour in a child but, when the diagnosis is delayed, often following numerous visits to health professionals, the results can be devastating. “We are proud to welcome Toys R Us as our first corporate partner for this campaign to help us raise awareness across the UK.”

The HeadSmart campaign was launched in 2011 after concerns were raised about the length of time it was taking to diagnose brain tumours in children and young people in the UK.

The campaign is based on extensive research funded by The Brain Tumour Charity.

The research found that survival rates and treatments could be improved if the disease was diagnosed early enough.

Brain tumours – symptoms The symptoms that most often send people to the doctor are headaches and fits.

But brain tumours are rare and there are more common explanations for both.

Symptoms caused by the tumour taking up space in the skull include headaches, sickness, drowsiness, problems with the eyes and fits (seizures).

Other symptoms can depend on the tumour’s position.

The list includes personality changes, swearing or losing inhibitions, loss of feeling in part of the body, sight problems on one side, loss of bowel or bladder control and poor co-ordination.

There are many other causes for these and it is important to see a doctor.