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St. Jude Finds Young Age May Give Survival Advantage to Children With Certain Brain Tumors
Date:5/29/2008

The improved survival of children under 3 years old with diffuse pontine glioma compared to older children suggests that the biological properties of this cancer may be distinct in young patients

MEMPHIS, Tenn., May 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- St. Jude Children's Research Hospital investigators have shown that children under 3 years old who have a brain tumor called diffuse pontine glioma (DPG) appear to have a better outcome than older children with the same cancer.

Results of the study, which appear in the advance online publication of the journal "Cancer," are important because clinicians have long believed that DPG was universally fatal. Moreover, it was assumed that clinicians had simply misdiagnosed the disease in children who responded to treatment and survived.

"Our findings show that children under 3 years with DPG can potentially respond better to treatment than older children," said Alberto Broniscer, M.D., assistant member in the St. Jude Department of Oncology and the paper's first author. "Unlike other previous studies in young children where the diagnosis of DPG was based on either CT scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the diagnosis of all our patients was based on MRI only. CT scans are not able to differentiate between DPG -- a tumor that occurs in the brainstem -- and other tumors, which originate in the same area with a better prognosis."

The researchers reviewed the medical records of 10 patients under 3 years of age with DPG. The median age of these patients was 2.2 years, and the median time between symptom development and actual diagnosis was 2.5 months. All children had the diagnosis of DPG based on radiological review of their MRIs at diagnosis.

All of the children received treatment -- two with radiation, six with radiation plus chemotherapy, and two with chemotherapy only. Four of the children died, but six have survived for at least two years following this therapy, which is ineffect
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SOURCE St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
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