A team of scientists and doctors from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore (NUS Medicine) and the Institute of Health Innovation and Technology have discovered a new non-invasive method to predict and reduce the recurrence of childhood cancers.
The most common form of solid tumor affecting children is neuroblastoma. It is known to be the cause of a disproportionate number of childhood cancer deaths. Most patients who relapse would have a very poor chance of survival despite receiving the best care.
“The bone marrow is where most neuroblastoma relapses occur. This discovery provides a simplified method of assessing the spread of cancer. The current method of sampling bone marrow can be complicated, painful and expensive. It is especially scary for small patients and their families,” explained Dr. Amos Loh, senior consultant in pediatric surgery, vice chairman of surgery and head of the pediatric brain and solid tumor program at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
“If current methods can show that patients are cancer-free at the end of treatment, our new approach can detect ‘residues’ of disease that cannot be identified by current means. It may one day save patients’ lives through appropriate early intervention to prevent recurrences,” he added. Dr. Loch.
Cancer recurrence is usually caused by a small amount of “leftover” cancer cells which continue to circulate in the blood after treatment. These cells can eventually settle in different parts of the body and cause many tumors years later.
A new non-invasive method of monitoring neuroblastoma is painless and less expensive, and only involves a small amount of the patient’s blood. The blood sample processed to separate cancer cells from other cells. The cancer cells are then analyzed for genes that will help doctors determine the likelihood that the cancer has spread to the bone marrow, thereby predicting the likelihood of recurrence. The study identified several genes that predicted relapse in a group of patients with neuroblastoma. These include the genes OLFML2B, STAT1, ARHGDIB, STAB1 and TLR2, which are known to be associated with more aggressive disease in neuroblastoma.
“We hope that this method can replace the current invasive methods such as sampling bone marrow in the near future, and could potentially be extended to other childhood cancers,” said Associate Professor Chen Zhixiong from the Department of Physiology and NUS Medicine Cancer Research Centre.
“We are also exploring the use of circulating cancer cells to better understand the biology of neuroblastoma and variations in response to treatment to provide more personalized care neuroblastoma patients. In addition to cancer cells, we are also investigating other circulating biological entities in the blood that may provide additional opportunities for monitoring treatment effectiveness and help predict cancer spread and childhood cancer recurrence.”
The study was published in Frontiers in oncology.
Amos HP Loh et al, Prometastatic and mesenchymal gene expression characterizes circulating tumor cells from neuroblastoma patients with bone marrow metastases and relapse, Frontiers in oncology (2022). DOI: 10.3389/fonc.2022.939460
National University of Singapore
Citation: New, Noninvasive Method to Predict and Reduce Childhood Cancer Relapse (2022, October 5) Retrieved October 5, 2022, from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-10-non-invasive-method-relapse- childhood-cancers.html
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