Treating Neuroblastoma – How far did we get?
Neuroblastoma is cancer that attacks the nervous system of children. More than 600 children get this cancer every year in the USA. This is a solid tumor that starts in the nerve tissue in the neck area. And spreads to the chest, pelvis, and abdomen.
No cure for this cancer exists as the knowledge about same is quite limited. The knowledge concerning the causes of this cancer is still unknown. Even though the medicine advanced quite a lot in the last couple of years. However, the mortality rate of children affected by this type of cancer went down from 100% from several years ago to around 70 percent at the moment, thanks to aggressive treatments. This, however, doesn’t mean that the medicine found solution for this disease, as the risk of relapse is exceptionally high.
Understanding Neuroblastoma – Genetics
The advancement of technology in the medicine brought new tests that allowed researchers to get a better look at the genes of neuroblastoma cells. The fact is that the change happens in a particular chromosome. The issue is that the medicine can’t pinpoint the gene, or the part of the same that the neuroblastoma affects.
Researchers, thanks to new technology found that neuroblastoma has different ways in which it affects a gene in a chromosome. One way in which it does it is through the amplification in which case it creates additional copies of a gene. Two other ways in which neuroblastoma affects the gene and the chromosome exist. The first one is called deletion as the chromosome misses a gene (piece of the DNA). The second one is named a gain as there is an extra piece of DNA in the chromosome.
The ability to recognize which change affects the chromosome helps researchers to determine which type of treatment might work on the patient.
Treating neuroblastoma – Does it work
It’s still hard to determine whether treatment of this type of cancer works. Several different types of treatment showed positive results in some of the patients. This is a step forward, but claiming that neuroblastoma can be cured in all cases. Is still something that researchers don’t want to claim. The results of the tests they run will determine whether treatments work as intended only after all treated children grow up. This means that the results on whether a treatment works will only be available to them in next couple of years.