Genetic Markers in the Treatment of Brain Cancer

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Charles S. Cobbs, MD

The Gregory Foltz, MD Endowed Director Ben & Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment Swedish Neuroscience Specialists

 

An article recently published in the journal Oncotarget has received quite a bit of publicity recently.   http://m.medicalxpress.com/news/2014-08-genetic-brain-cancer.html   The press release indicates that a new genetic test may change how brain cancers are treated. In actuality, this article is an extraordinarily sophisticated genetic screen of blood DNA markers that may or may not indicate the presence of a brain tumor. The press release intimates that through a simple blood test one can determine whether or not a biopsy is required of a brain tumor and this may allow physicians to avoid an unnecessary procedure.  This very preliminary esoteric molecular genetics work being publicized as something that could change the way neurosurgeons and neuro- oncologists treat brain tumors is a concern. Yes, we are all looking for markers that can specifically identify brain tumors and determine what the grade of the tumor is. However, this preliminary work has not been substantiated in a large number of patients and it is unclear whether or not it may have any impact on the treatment of patients. Furthermore, there is absolutely no reason to believe that a simple blood test such as this would allow a physician to avoid doing a biopsy of a brain lesion that is thought to be a brain tumor. No matter what a blood test shows, we will likely always need to look at a tumor under the microscope to identify certain cellular characteristics that would indicate the growth rate, the mitotic index, and other genetic markers that may impact therapeutic decision-making. Microsatellite DNA is certainly not ready for prime time in terms of having any impact on this complex clinical decision-making. That being said, the authors should be congratulated for contributing work that may help in the future with sorting out associations between no brain tumors and circulating molecules in the blood.                       Disclaimer: This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog author and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated.  All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information. These terms and conditions of use are subject to change at anytime and without notice. All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. The owner will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

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