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New merciful treatment method for children with brain tumours

Children who undergo brain radiation therapy run a significant risk of suffering from permanent neurocognitive adverse effects. These adverse effects are due to the fact that the radiation often encounters healthy tissue. This reduces the formation of new cells, particularly in the hippocampus - the part of the brain involved in memory and learning.

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg's Sahlgrenska Academy have used a model study to test newer radiation therapy techniques which could reduce these harmful adverse effects. The researchers based their study on a number of paediatric patients who had undergone conventional radiation treatment for medulloblastoma, a form of brain tumour that almost exclusively affects children, and simulated treatment plans using proton therapy techniques and newer photon therapy techniques.

Each treatment plan was personalised by physician Malin Blomstrand, physicist Patrik Brodin and their colleagues. The results show that the risk of neurocognitive adverse effects can be reduced significantly using the new radiation treatment techniques, particularly proton therapy.

"This could mean a better quality of life for children who are forced to undergo brain radiation therapy," says Malin Blomstrand.

The article "Estimated clinical benefit of protecting neurogenesis in the developing brain during radiation therapy for pediatric medulloblastoma" will be published in the journal Neuro-Oncology.

Link to article: http://bit.ly/MmL4VE

PROTON AND PHOTON THERAPY In contrast to traditional x-ray radiation and electron radiation, which pass right through the body and thereby also potentially harm healthy tissue, the energy in a proton beam can be varied so that it reaches a predetermined depth. In contrast to photon irradiation protons can be concentrated to the actual tumour with a minimum of dose to the healthy tissue and therefore reduced risk of adverse effects.

For further information, please contact: Malin Blomstrand, doctoral student at the Sahlgrenska Academy, the University of Gothenburg +46 31 786 3819 +46 31 342 8874 malin.blomstrand@neuro.gu.se

idw :: 15.10.2012