Gene expression test can improve in brain cancer treatment

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Researchers from UC San Francisco and Northwestern Medicine and elsewhere have developed a groundbreaking gene expression test that could strongly improve the treatment of meningiomas, the most common form of brain tumor in the United States.

This new approach, detailed in a Nature Medicine publication, offers a highly accurate method to guide treatment decisions, potentially altering the course of care for nearly one-third of the 42,000 Americans diagnosed with meningiomas each year.

Rethinking Treatment for Brain Tumors

The Challenge: Meningiomas, typically treated with surgery and radiation, often present with serious side effects like memory loss and cognitive decline. Identifying which patients truly benefit from radiation is crucial.

Innovative Solution: The research team, led by David Raleigh, MD, Ph.D., and Stephen Magill, MD, Ph.D., has shifted the focus from traditional microscopic examination to analyzing patterns of gene expression in tumors. This method more accurately predicts the aggressiveness of meningiomas and the likelihood of recurrence.

Tailoring Treatment to Individual Needs

Implications for Low-Grade Tumors: Currently, patients with Grade 1 meningiomas often avoid radiation post-surgery. However, about 20% experience tumor recurrence. The gene expression test can identify these patients, suggesting they may benefit from radiation therapy.

Redefining Care for Aggressive Tumors: For patients with more aggressive Grade 2 and 3 meningiomas, radiation is a common treatment. Yet, the study reveals that two-fifths of these patients might not need radiation, as indicated by their tumor’s gene expression.

Towards Personalized and Effective Care

Clinical Trials Ahead: The research team plans to validate this gene expression approach in two upcoming clinical trials, aiming to integrate it into standard care practices.

Expert Insight: William Chen, MD, highlights the efficiency of gene-expression tests, commonly used in breast and prostate cancers, as an accurate and cost-effective alternative to other methods.

Patient-Centered Approach: This breakthrough offers a patient-centered strategy, allowing doctors to tailor surgical and radiation treatments to maximize both the quality and quantity of life for individuals with meningiomas.

In conclusion, this innovative gene expression test represents a significant advancement in the treatment of meningiomas.

By providing a more precise assessment of tumor behavior, it enables doctors to make more informed decisions about the necessity of radiation therapy, thereby reducing unnecessary treatments and focusing on individual patient needs.

This approach not only enhances the effectiveness of care but also improves the quality of life for those diagnosed with this common brain tumor.

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The research findings can be found in Nature Medicine.