Cancer screening in children: promising advances from a Montreal team

Cancer screening in children: promising advances from a Montreal team

BET À DAY

A blood or urine test could soon replace sometimes risky surgical biopsies to diagnose and treat cancer in children, according to research by a team from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center . 

Led by Janusz Rak, this research would make it easier to capture and analyze exosomes, which are believed to be miniature replicas of cancer cells.

“ If the exosomes are captured, they can reveal the type of cancer lurking in the body, the type of malignant cells the tumor contains, and possibly how to attack them with treatment.” .

Liquid biopsies – such as blood or urine tests – could improve the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of pediatric solid tumors such as brain cancer or bone tumors.

“[Liquid biopsies] are virtually painless and risk-free. Also, we can repeat the test many times to make sure the child's treatment is working, and if not, switch immediately to another drug,” Rak explained.

Remember that in Canada, cancer remains the leading cause of death by illness among children. Each year, an average of 943 children are diagnosed with life-threatening cancer.

“Over the past 30 years, the cure rate has increased from 30% to 80%. This is enormous progress, but there is still a lot to do,” said Rébecca Dumont, Executive Director of the Charles-Bruneau Foundation.