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F1000 Biol Rep. 2011;3:5. doi: 10.3410/B3-5. Epub 2011 Mar 1.

Medulloblastoma: advances and challenges.


Medulloblastoma, a cancer of the posterior fossa, is the most common malignant brain tumor in children. Although 80% of patients with average-risk medulloblastoma are cured, their quality of life is often compromised by treatment-related side effects. Recently, molecular and genomic studies have shown medulloblastoma to be a heterogeneous disease made up of distinct disease subtypes. The importance of this finding is that response to therapy appears to be subtype-specific. Nevertheless, most patients are still treated according to risk stratification methods based on the clinically defined presence or absence of disseminated disease, which take no account of these newly defined subtypes. The potential, however, to vastly reduce therapy-mediated toxicity to patients with tumor subtypes that have good outcomes, while improving therapy through targeting for the poor responders, is now palpable. Critical to this effort will be the ongoing refinement of our understanding of medulloblastoma subgroups at the molecular level and the development of mouse models that faithfully recapitulate tumor subtypes.

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