Symptoms of Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma typically present for approximately 1 month before diagnosis, but subtle symptoms may be present for up to 6 months prior to diagnosis. Because of their location in the brainstem, as they grow, DIPGs cause pressure on the cranial nerves that originate in the pons. These nerves control muscles used to move the eyes and the face, and to chew and swallow. Additionally, a related condition called hydrocephalus (the build-up of fluid in the brain) also increases pressure inside the skull.
The DIPG tumour itself, and especially in combination with hydrocephalus (excess fluid causing pressure), can cause the following symptoms:
- Double vision
- Difficulty in controlling eye and eyelid movement, and facial expression
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
- Difficulty speaking
- Difficulty urinating
- Weakness in the arms and legs
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty walking
- Headaches (especially in the morning)
- Nausea and vomiting
Because of the aggressive nature of DIPGs and the rate at which they grow, symptoms usually get worse quickly.