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Scientists get closer to more accurate cancer diagnosis [Print to PDF] [Print to RTF]

Researchers in France and the United Kingdom have identified a link between a chromosomal abnormality and a greater risk of dying in children suffering from a deadly form of brain cancer. Presented in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, the findings could help scientists dev...
Scientists get closer to more accurate cancer diagnosis
Researchers in France and the United Kingdom have identified a link between a chromosomal abnormality and a greater risk of dying in children suffering from a deadly form of brain cancer. Presented in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, the findings could help scientists develop a new diagnostic test for identifying young patients who are at the highest risk associated with an ependymoma tumour, and who may require more aggressive treatments to save their life.

Led by the Brain Tumour Research Centre at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, researchers say the results could also help physicians determine which children with the tumour have a better prognosis and would benefit from less intensive treatments. This would result in the patients suffering from fewer side effects that have the potential to trigger permanent disabilities, which in turn could adversely affect them later in life.

The team investigated abnormal copies of chromosomes in the cells of 147 brain ependymomas in young British and French children who received tumour surgery followed by chemotherapy, as well as older European children who received tumour surgery followed by radiotherapy. The aim of the work was to shed light on whether the outlook for the young patients is worse for those who have a chromosomal abnormality.

Professor Richard Grundy and Dr John-Paul Kilday, along with colleagues, discovered an association between a greater number of copies of a specific region of a chromosome called 1q25 and approximately 20% of the tumours they tested from children diagnosed with the deadly form of brain cancer. This connection triggers a worse outcome in patients treated with chemotherapy and surgery.

The findings also helped the team to accurately place the patients into one of three risk groups: high, intermediate and standard.

'This study is the first to assess copy number gain like this in groups of children with ependymoma who have been treated in a similar way, and is an important step forward in being able to predict the future for children with these brain tumours,' notes Dr Kilday.

For his part, Professor Grundy says: 'We are now hoping that these findings are reproduced in other studies currently underway in other countries, including the United States. If their results match ours, then the presence of 1q25 copy gain in childhood ependymoma could be introduced into future international treatment planning as a new marker of poor outcome, which will in turn define treatment. We would intend that this should be something each patient's tumour is tested for at the time of diagnosis.'

While ependymomas are tumours of the brain that know no age limits, children are more at risk of being diagnosed with them. And while treatments have improved over the years, around 40% of the young patients die.

Experts suggest that the death rate has not dropped because they could not accurately predict which tumours could be more aggressive than others.
Source: Clinical Cancer Research; University of Nottingham

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Countries

  • France
Record Number: 34463 / Last updated on: 2012-03-30
Category: Miscellaneous
Provider: EC