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New tumor markers determine therapy intensity
Date:3/17/2009

Characteristic changes in the DNA of medulloblastoma, the most frequent malignant brain tumor in childhood, indicate precisely how aggressively the tumor will continue to spread and what the chances of disease relapse are. Researchers at the Center for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine at the Heidelberg University Hospital and the German Cancer Research Center have discovered this correlation. With this new set of tumor markers, the intensity of treatment can be adjusted individually and the potentially damaging effects reduced. The results have now been published online in the prestigious Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Medulloblastoma is the most frequent childhood brain tumor

The most common malignant brain tumor in childhood is the medulloblastoma every year, more than 100 children in Germany develop this tumor of the cerebellum and some 30-40 children die from it. The first symptoms generally appear at primary school age, but the tumor, which can already arise during embryonal development, can also occur in babies and toddlers. Aggressive radiation and chemotherapy regimens after surgery can permanently damage the brain of the growing child, for example, leading to coordination disorders and limited growth.

"Using the characteristic changes in the genetic makeup of medulloblastoma, we can predict more accurately than with conventional methods how a patient will respond to therapy and how great the risk is that the tumor will return after surgery and subsequent radiation and chemotherapy," explained Dr. Stefan Pfister, who works with his team in the department of pediatric oncology at the Center for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (Medical Director: Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Kulozik) and in the department of molecular genetics at the German Cancer Research Center (Director: Professor Dr. Peter Lichter). Thus far, oncologists could estimate this risk only on the basis of histology findings, age at diagnosis, residual
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Contact: Dr. Stefan Pfister
s.pfister@dkfz.de
062-215-64555
University Hospital Heidelberg
Source:Eurekalert

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