Traditional methods of diagnosing certain brain cancers in children are deeply flawed, a new study shows. As a result, some children with these particular rare tumors have been getting the wrong diagnoses and, in some cases, the wrong treatment, the researchers say.
The errors were only revealed with the help of new tests that can look at tumor cells’ molecular profiles, said lead scientist Dr. Jim Olson of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He urged his fellow pediatric brain cancer specialists to use such tests to diagnose their young patients to help make sure they receive optimal care. And families of young brain cancer patients, he said, should insist on the tests, which are called DNA methylation profiling.
“The biggest thing coming out of this is that we really need to do genomic analyses at the time of diagnosis for kids with brain tumors,” Olson said. “Tumors that can look exactly alike under a microscope can have very different biology and require entirely different forms of treatment.”