Genetic Discovery Could Guide Treatment for Aggressive Childhood Cancer
As we continue to learn more about cancer and how it is inherited, scientists are also exploring how to improve treatment for children with cancer. One of the biggest problems with childhood cancer is that patients are treated at different ages: some are diagnosed as children, and others at ages as old as twenty. So, which patients should get treatment now, and which will be best to put on a wait-and-see approach? A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins will help identify which children are the best candidates for aggressive treatment now and which may benefit from a more conservative approach.
Cancer is a disease that affects thousands of children, and some of these children have a worse prognosis than others. This is because cancer can spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, bone, and brain. A few cancers are treated with radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of the two, but many tumours cannot be treated this way. Children can be misdiagnosed with a different cancer if the cancerous tumours are not removed or are not caught early on.
What is Childhood Cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society, most childhood cancers are caused by a process called transformation. This is when normal cells in the body go haywire and start growing out of control, often because of a mutation in a gene. These mutations can be the result of a cancer-causing virus, or a chemical used in a critical step in the body’s metabolism.
Childhood cancer is the fourth most common form of cancer in the world. The most common types of childhood cancers are cancers of the bone (osteosarcoma), brain (glioma), lymphatic (lymphoma), and reproductive (gonadal and testicular germ cell tumours). There are many types of childhood cancers, and they are diagnosed and treated differently.
What is a Genetic Mutation?
Cancer is the disease of cells, and the main cause of this disease is mutations in chromosomes. While there is no one specific genetic mutation that causes cancer, certain mutations are more common than others. These mutations are known as cancer-predisposing genes.
When it comes to an understanding of the underlying genetic mutations that cause cancer, we’re making great strides. It is estimated that over 100 different mutations can be responsible for causing any type of cancer. In fact, some mutations are only responsible for a small subset of cancers, while other mutations can be responsible for any type of cancer.
What Treatment Can Be Given to Counteract the Mutation?
Genetic mutations are the most common cause of disease, but what causes them? How can we prevent them? Rather than looking at mutations as a problem, we should work to understand them as a natural process — a biological process that has shaped us, shaped our species, and will continue to shape us. For scientists to better understand how mutations affect the body, we need to look past our natural bias against studying mutations and have a more open mind.
How Could Genetic Discovery Guide Treatment for Aggressive Childhood Cancer?
In the last few years, scientists have uncovered a wealth of information about the genetics of childhood cancer. One area of research, which is gaining attention, is the role of genetic mutations in childhood cancer that drive the growth and spread of tumours. Scientists have identified a handful of genes that are commonly mutated in many types of childhood cancers, as well as in some acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and acute myeloid leukaemia. They are also increasingly recognising the importance of gene-environment interactions, which can affect the expression of genes in a variety of ways. These changes in gene expression can influence the growth and spread of cancer.
Scientists have known for years that cancer is caused by cells that become mutated and turn into cells that don’t belong in our bodies. Now, the use of genetic sequencing allows scientists to understand better the specific mutations that occur and, in so doing, develop treatment options that might prevent or slow the growth of deadly cancer cells.
In conclusion, there are many significant genetic finds every year, which is just one of them. Genetic research is like a giant puzzle; researchers have to figure out how different mutations affect cancer. The more pieces of the puzzle we have, the more we know about cancer and how to treat it.