New tests will provide doctors with vital information to quickly diagnose young patients with brain tumours.
A joint initiative between the Hudson Institute of Medical Research and Monash Health has resulted in the introduction of Australia’s first molecular analysis program.
The testing program determines the differences between brain tumours and helps doctors tailor a specialised treatment plan for each child. This will reduce the need for unnecessary chemotherapy and radiation.
Doctors in Australia currently have to send tumour samples overseas to determine what type of brain tumour a child may have. This can cause delays of two or more months before the doctors can diagnose and provide treatment. Wait time will be reduced to three weeks and hopefully save lives as tumours are being treated quickly and effectively.
Dr Peter Downie, Consultant Oncologist and Head of the Monash Children’s Hospital Cancer Centre, said in a statement: “A local service will enable clinicians to provide prognosis to patients and their families more quickly, and to tailor cancer treatments to fit the tumour profile.”
The most common form of brain tumour in young people, medulloblastoma, represents 20 per cent of all childhood brain cancers.
There are four well-recognised subgroups of medulloblastoma, with each form of the tumour having different causes and prognoses.
Current treatments for brain cancer use a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to eradicate cancer. However, the child is more likely to develop problems later in life such as intellectual disabilities and growth issues.
According to the Cancer Council Victoria, brain cancer is the second most common cancer for Australian children. About 100 children are diagnosed with brain tumours each year.
Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper told The Newsroom: “Research is so important in identifying new cancer treatments, especially treatments that are personalised to the patient and their type of cancer like this is.”
“New breakthroughs in treatment are vital in providing hope for these children and their families, and to ultimately improving outcomes,” he said.
The program is taking place in Melbourne. – Megan Simmonds
Photo of antibiotics from Pixabay user Brett_Hondow’s page.