“Autopsy tissue is absolutely critical if we want to cure more children with pediatric brain tumors. The biology of the tumor changes over time, and quite obviously the tumor at the time of death is the tumor that evaded therapy. It’s this tumor we need to learn about in order to treat it so that in future we will not need autopsies.”
– Michael Taylor MD, PhD Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto
Brain cancer is complex
Brain cancer is not a single disease. It consists of a dozen types and countless subtypes. Researchers need a critical mass of tissue samples to fully understand the pathology of each type and to better predict how tumors will behave and respond to targeted treatments.
How do you treat a tumor that keeps changing?
We need more information. The more researchers understand and model the changing biology behind childhood brain tumors, the more doctors will be able to create effective treatment plans. To understand children’s brain cancer better, researchers need to study a child’s tumor at diagnosis, recurrence – and if necessary, after death. Only then will we understand why our treatments work for some children and not others.
Why brain cancer is so difficult to beat
Children are growing and changing, and so are their tumors. In addition, tumors can be different from one spot to another, and different after treatment than at diagnosis. So, when a child dies from cancer, it may not even be the same type of cancer the child had at diagnosis.
Watch this video to hear leaders in the field of childhood cancer clearly explain why the gift of your child’s tissue is important:
Having healthy brain tissue, diseased tissue from the original surgery and autopsy tissue gives researchers the complete picture of the metamorphosis of a child’s disease. For example, it was only recently discovered that in recurrent medulloblastoma the child dies from a tumor that is completely different than the original tumor he/she was diagnosed with. This discovery was only made possible because of autopsy tissue donations. This discovery has changed the standard of care for recurrent medulloblastoma patients.