Test Allows Patients with Brain Tumors to Avoid Futile Treatment

The diagnosis can be staggering: glioblastoma, the most common form of brain tumor, which carries a life expectancy usually measured in months.

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"It is frightening," says Mark Chance, PhD, a researcher at Case Western Reserve University's School of Medicine. "Unfortunately, no one lasts more than a couple of years."

The prognosis may be poor, but Chance says his lab has come up with a test that could allow patients and their doctors to make more informed decisions about treatment.

By examining the levels of various genes and proteins in tissue from tumors, researchers can determine whether a patient is likely to live from six to 12 months or longer. And they can determine whether traditional treatments, such as chemotherapy, are likely to be effective.

Chance says less than half of patients benefit from those treatments, and this test will give doctors a basis for concluding when they will not work, relieving those patients from the pain and possible medical complications of fruitless procedures.

"It will help in that patients will not have to suffer through a regimen of therapy that's not going to make them better," he says.

He adds the test will allow patients and their doctors to consider new and experimental treatments or give patients the option to live out the rest of their lives free from medical intervention.