Scientists develop model to tackle brain cancer in children
Researchers from Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg have developed a model study to test novel radiation therapy techniques with the capacity to tackle harmful adverse effects of brain cancer in children. The model study was presented in the journal Neuro-Oncology.
Radiation therapy is part of cancer treatment to control or kill malignant cells. While painless, it causes side effects that range from fatigue and skin irritation, to nausea, to damage to epithelial surfaces. For children being treated for brain cancer, brain radiation therapy increases their risk of suffering from permanent neurocognitive adverse effects because radiation comes into contact with healthy tissue. As a result, fewer new cells are formed, especially in the hippocampus, a key component of the brain that plays an important role in both memory and spatial navigation.
For this study, the researchers evaluated paediatric patients who were treated with conventional radiation treatment for medulloblastoma, a form of brain tumour that mostly affects children. They also based their study on simulated treatment plans using proton therapy techniques and newer photon therapy techniques.
The results of each treatment plan indicated that the use of the novel radiation treatment techniques mitigated the risk of neurocognitive adverse effects, especially proton therapy.
According to the researchers, conventional X-ray radiation and electron radiation goes through the body, thus increasing the chances of healthy tissue getting affected. The energy in a proton beam can be varied so that it reaches a predetermined depth. Photon irradiation protons, meanwhile, can be concentrated to the tumour itself, making it harder for healthy tissue to be damaged and helping decrease the risk of adverse effects.
'This could mean a better quality of life for children who are forced to undergo brain radiation therapy,' said physician Malin Blomstrand.
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Data Source Provider: Neuro-Oncology; Sahlgrenska Academy, the University of Gothenburg
Document Reference: Blomstrand, M., et al. 'Estimated clinical benefit of protecting neurogenesis in the developing brain during radiation therapy for pediatric medulloblastoma', Neuro Oncol, 2012. doi:10.1093/neuonc/nos120
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