Difuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG)

Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is a specific type of brain tumour which is one of a larger group referred to as brainstem gliomas. They are located within the brainstem which is the point at which the spinal cord enters into the brain.

DIPG usually occurs in children between 5-7 years of age and makes up 10-15% of all brain tumours in young children. The cancer cells infiltrate the surrounding nerves and are very difficult to remove surgically. Therefore, the treatment that is currently available is very limited.

The standard therapy for DIPG is six weeks of radiation therapy, which usually improves the symptoms, but only in the short term. Studies have shown that existing chemotherapy provides little improvement, although clinical studies are planned to assess the potential use of chemotherapy in combination with other drugs.

The average overall survival of children diagnosed with DIPG is approximately 9 months and less than 10% of children with DIPG survive beyond two years from diagnosis.

Common symptoms include:

  • Lack of facial control (droopy eyelids)
  • Double vision
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Seizures
  • Balance problems

The symptoms can develop slowly and subtly and may go unnoticed for months. In other cases, the symptoms may arise abruptly. A sudden onset of more than one symptom tends to occur with more rapidly growing tumours.

A government e-petition calling for greater funding into DIPG research has achieved over 10,000 signatures. Sign here today. 

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