Several research studies have been conducted to seek more information on childhood central nervous system tumors, their related prevention methods, their diagnostic process at the initial phase, and the best treatments strategies. Doctors have examined new drugs that control tumor growth in a better way. Targeted therapy aims at any factor contributing to the growth and development of cancer cells. Immunotherapy uses substances made either by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore the functioning of the immune system. Researchers are studying how well these drugs can work and how safe they are for children with Central Nervous System tumors.
Imaging techniques help surgeons point out the tumor’s position. fMRI allows surgeons to plan surgery around the tumor locations. Image-guided stereotaxis helps surgeons visualize and operate on the brain using 3-dimensional outlines of the brain and the Central Nervous System tumor. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy and positron emission tomography scans are being used to evaluate tumor metabolic activity. Improved methods of delivering radiation therapy are being explored. Clinical trials are going on to find better ways to lessen symptoms and side effects of current Central Nervous System tumor treatments to enhance patients’ comfort and quality of life.
Advancement in Childhood Central Nervous System Tumors Research
Based on the latest research doctors are learning more about Central Nervous System tumors, ways to prevent them, how to treat them best, and how to deliver the best care to children diagnosed with a tumor in the brain or spinal cord 1. The following research areas may include new alternatives for patients through clinical trials. Talking to your child’s doctor about the best diagnostic and treatment options for your child is the best 2.
- New medications – Doctors examine new drugs that may better control tumor growth. These include:
- Targeted therapy – Latest research has found particular genes, proteins, and other factors unique to different types of Central Nervous System tumors. Targeted therapy aims at any factor contributing to the growth and development of cancer cells. It can be a specific protein, gene or tissue environment. This treatment blocks the growth and spread of tumor cells while limiting damage to healthy cells.
- Immunotherapy, also known as biologic therapy, enhances the body’s natural defenses to fight the tumor. It uses substances made either by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore the functioning of the immune system. Researchers are studying how well these drugs can work and how safe they are for children with Central Nervous System tumors.
- Improved imaging techniques – Imaging techniques are being developed and refined that help surgeons point the tumor’s position. This may help prevent or reduce tissue damage to the healthy areas of the brain during treatment.
- Functional MRI is an imaging technique that identifies the parts of the brain that control speech, vision, hearing, touch, and movement. The particular locations of these functions are slightly different in every person, so fMRI allows surgeons to plan surgery around these locations.
- Image-guided stereotaxis helps the surgeons to visualize and operate on the brain using 3-dimensional outlines of the brain and the Central Nervous System tumor. These images help direct the surgeon to the tumor with specialized software. tumors that were once thought to be inoperable can now be removed using this technique.
- Magnetic resonance spectroscopy and positron emission tomography scans are being used to evaluate tumor metabolic activity. Whether these techniques can improve a doctor’s ability to predict how a tumor will grow and spread is still being researched.
- Improved methods of delivering radiation therapy – Doctors are experimenting with newer techniques for providing radiation therapy to specific types of tumors. These methods create detailed, 3-dimensional maps of the brain and the tumor, so doctors can focus the radiation therapy on the tumor and avoid damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. This can decrease a child’s exposure to radiation and reduce the long-term side effects.
- Palliative care – Clinical trials are going on to find better ways to lessen symptoms and side effects of current Central Nervous System tumor treatments to enhance patients’ comfort and quality of life.
- 1.Glod J, Rahme GJ, Kaur H, H. Raabe E, Hwang EI, Israel MA. Pediatric Brain Tumors: Current Knowledge and Therapeutic Opportunities. Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. Published online May 2016:249-260. doi:10.1097/mph.0000000000000551
- 2.Llopis-González A, Alcaide Capilla T, Chenlo Alonso U, Rubio-López N, Alegre-Martinez A, Morales Suárez-Varela M. Central nervous system (CNS) cancer in children and young people in the European Union and its involvements with socio-economic and environmental factors. Journal of the Neurological Sciences. Published online December 2015:151-155. doi:10.1016/j.jns.2015.10.055