Approximately 600 children are diagnosed with cancer every year. Childhood cancer is a rare condition. Although more and more children survive, some cancers are difficult to control. Neuroblastoma, a malignant tumor of the nervous system claims several children's lives each year. This is usually because the treatment does not work or because the tumor returns after treatment.
Dr. Lieve Tytgat, a pediatric oncologist at the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology, is working on a solution to this problem. She is conducting research on a blood test with top scientists from France, Germany, Spain, Austria and Belgium. This should lead to a more effective treatment with a higher chance of recovery for children with neuroblastoma.
Dr. Tytgat explains how it works: “Tumors leave DNA behind in the bloodstream. We can detect and analyze the DNA and, in this way, we can keep an eye on the effect of the treatment. A decline in tumor DNA is good, but you can also see in time if a tumor has gone and if it returns. We think we can even read which treatment has the best chance of success from the DNA. This is great news for children with cancer.”
The test allows doctors to accurately adjust the treatment for each patient. The test is expected to provide better insight into the response to treatment and chance of recovery. An additional benefit is that a blood test is less invasive than current alternatives such as a biopsy (extraction of a piece of tumor tissue) or other internal examinations.
Reliable scientific research with enough conclusive evidence is very difficult for a small group of people. What the best treatment is can rarely be shown. International collaboration is essential to be able to cope with this problem. The sharing of data and the exchange of knowledge and experience should lead to the desired acceleration of the research into and treatment of rare tumors. By financing these European studies, KWF gives this a necessary boost.
For more information about Dr. Tytgat's research, visit the page of the Tytgat group.