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Cranial radiotherapy for childhood cancers can cause meningiomas decades later

Cranial radiotherapy for childhood cancers can cause meningiomas decades later

Neuroscientists have discovered the genetic foundation explaining why a significant number of childhood cancer survivors develop meningiomas in adulthood, sometimes 10-30 years after undergoing cranial radiotherapy.

Treatment with radiation boosts survival of the most common cancers in children, which are mainly brain tumours and leukaemia. Sadly, long-term survivors experience negative after-effects of secondary neoplasia, including radiation-induced meningiomas (RIMs).

According to the research findings published in Nature Communications, radiation causes genetic rearrangements in DNA that result in meningiomas. The article explains that RIMs are the most frequent brain neoplasm caused by ionising radiation. These tumours develop decades after treatment with cranial radiation for primary childhood cancer and are more aggressive than sporadic meningiomas.

"Radiation-induced meningiomas appear the same on MRI and pathology, feel the same during surgery and look the same under the operating microscope. What's different is they are more aggressive, tend to recur in multiples and invade the brain, causing significant morbidity and limitations (or impairments) for individuals who survive following childhood radiation," says Dr Zadeh, Associate Professor, Division of Neurosurgery at University of Toronto.

The research team’s analysis shows that 74% of RIM adult patients had received cranial-spinal radiotherapy while being treated for leukaemia or paediatric brain cancer as children.

Dr Aldape, Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at University of Toronto, states: "It is an important clinical problem because it presents a paradoxical dilemma that while cranial-spinal radiation is needed to cure many childhood cancers, an unfortunate consequence is that 10-to-15-years following radiation treatment, some survivors develop meningiomas."

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