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Predicting the Progression of Brain Tumors

Protein signals whether common childhood tumor will return after surgery

(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)

THURSDAY, July 31, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The presence of a protein called Ki-67 antigen can predict whether the most common form of childhood brain tumor will continue to grow or return following surgery.

So says a study in the August issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas analyzed cell samples from 118 children with the brain tumor pilocytic astrocytoma. They found the tumor is more likely to progress if there are large amounts of Ki-67 present in cancer cells. That suggests certain tumors are biologically predisposed to continue growing or reoccur.

About 40 percent of all childhood brain tumors are pilocytic astrocytoma. These brain tumors are usually not life-threatening. But the tumor can cause problems with balance, speech, coordination, walking and handling objects.

About 1,100 children in the United States are diagnosed each year with this form of brain tumor.

The study's findings explain why some of these tumors don't return after surgery to remove them while others continue to grow. This information can help doctors treating children with pilocytic astrocytoma.

"This finding already makes a difference in how we treat patients," study author Dr. Daniel Bowers says in a news release.

He says he now closely follows patients with high levels of MIB-1, an antibody that is immunoreactive with the Ki-67 antigen, so he can detect any signs of potential relapse as soon as possible.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about brain tumor.

SOURCE: University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, news release, July 28, 2003
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