Childhood brain tumour and leukaemia are the two most common types of cancers in children. Treatments for these cancers have improved dramatically in recent years and now a majority of children survive. However, these cancers and their treatments can have negative effects on child development, including communication and swallowing skills. This guideline makes two main recommendations about the management of communication and swallowing difficulties in children diagnosed with childhood brain tumour or leukaemia as shown below.

Recommendation 1[edit source]

Communication assessment and intervention should be offered to children diagnosed with childhood brain tumour or leukaemia

The communication recommendation made in this guideline calls for communication assessment and intervention to be offered to children diagnosed with brain tumour or leukaemia. This is needed because these children often experience communication difficulties such as problems with producing clear speech, understanding and using language, and literacy skills such as reading and writing. Communication difficulties may be seen at the time of cancer diagnosis or during cancer treatment but can also be seen months or years after cancer treatment.

Recommendation 2[edit source]

Swallowing assessment and management should be offered to children diagnosed with childhood brain tumour or leukaemia

The swallowing recommendation made in this guideline calls for swallowing assessment and management to be offered to children diagnosed with brain tumour or leukaemia. This is needed because the ability to swallow foods and fluids can be compromised in these children. This can be life-threatening as it puts the child at-risk of chest infections if food/fluid enters the lungs. Swallowing difficulties are frequently reported during cancer treatment. However, there is some evidence that swallowing difficulties may continue into the longer-term, once cancer treatment has finished.