Chromosome 21 abnormality tells oncologists to treat pediatric ALL more aggressively

August 20, 2013, University of Colorado Denver

A recent study by members of the Children's Oncology Group reports results of a large trial showing that children whose leukemia cells have amplification of a portion of chromosome 21 may require more aggressive treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) than children without this gene amplification.

"This helps identify patients who need more therapy than they may otherwise get," says Stephen Hunger, MD, investigator at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and director of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children's Hospital Colorado.

Hunger notes that this genetic abnormality was first described in 2003 and has subsequently been found in about 2 percent of pediatric ALL patients. Initial reports described poor outcomes for small groups of children with this abnormality, but the current study is by far the largest and shows the importance of this genetic abnormality even with modern treatments. The study documents the treatments and outcomes of more than 8,000 cases of pediatric ALL.

"What we found is that when this genetic abnormality is present in children with good risk features who get a standard level of treatment, there is more treatment failure than with similar, low-risk kids who don't have this . But with kids whose risk features already dictate more aggressive treatment, this genetic abnormality doesn't seem to be associated with a worse outcome, because kids are already getting the appropriate treatment. Recognizing this abnormality could help us treat even otherwise low-risk kids more aggressively up front leading to improved cure rates," Hunger says.

Specifically, the is defined as four or more copies of the gene RUNX1, located on an abnormal . And this amplification is already detected as a byproduct of another genetic test standard in pediatric ALL, namely a test for fusion of this RUNX1 gene with the gene ETV6.

"In a sense, the testing comes for free with other testing you're already doing," Hunger says.

A study published by the same group in 2012 showed that pediatric ALL cure rates are at or above 90.4 percent.

"In early 1960s this disease was incurable," Hunger says. "Then in the late 1960s, the cure rate was 10 percent. Now 90 percent of children and adolescents diagnosed with ALL will be cured. Still, a 90-percent survival rate is little consolation to the 10 percent of families whose child doesn't survive. There's still more work to be done."

Explore further: Rare leukaemia survival-rate breakthrough

Related Stories

Rare leukaemia survival-rate breakthrough

August 13, 2013
A pioneering genetic study means that children with a rare subtype of leukaemia have 75% less chance of their leukaemia recurring.

Study reports steady increases in long-term survival among children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia

March 12, 2012
A study by the Children's Oncology Group (COG) reported that five-year survival for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL, the most common type of pediatric cancer) among children treated through COG clinical trials increased ...

Australia-led study in epilepsy breakthrough

April 2, 2013
An Australia-led study has identified a gene associated with a common form of epilepsy which could lead to earlier diagnosis, a researcher said Tuesday.

Кesearchers identify gene variations that may help predict cancer treatment response

August 9, 2013
Researchers at the Moffitt Cancer Center have identified four inherited genetic variants in non-small cell lung cancer patients that can help predict survival and treatment response. Their findings could help lead to more ...

Chronic illness puts pediatric trauma patients at higher risk

August 6, 2013
In a recent study published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy in The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital found that pediatric trauma ...

Family members of children with cancer may also be at risk

August 7, 2013
When a child is diagnosed with cancer, one of the first questions the parents ask is "Will my other children get cancer?" A new study from Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah suggests the answer to that ...

Recommended for you

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.