Published on February 15th, 2012 | by Steven Hodson0
Some kids die from brain cancer while others don’t- Researchers find out why
It is sad and hard for families when their children get sick from anything but the agony is incomprehensible when that illness could kill them, and in many case it does. Nowhere is this more apparent than children who find themselves fighting a type of pediatric brain cancer called medulloblastoma.
Right now the only real treatment it to aggressively target the molecular markers that are formed by genetic mutations. The problem is that this type of treatment will work with some children but not with others because as found by Dr. Michael D. Taylor at The Hospital for Sick Kids that as the cancer spreads the metastases are genetically similar to each other but very different the primary tumor.
“This two-part genetic profile explains why some children are unaffected by treatments for their medulloblastoma,” says Taylor, who co-authored the paper with Dr. Eric Bouffet, a neuro-oncologist and Director of the Brain Tumour Program at SickKids. “Because oncologists assumed the metastasized cancer was genetically similar to that of the primary tumour, we all thought that treatments based on testing the primary tumour would impact all of the disease sites.”
However, markers identified in the primary tumour may be missing entirely from the metastatic tumours, leaving those tumours untreated. The findings imply that some children may require separate therapies for the primary tumour and the metastases.
This type of cancer is the most common malignant pediatric brain tumor and even though the survival rate for children is 60 percent many children are disabled because of the harsh treatments they need to undergo to fight the cancer.