A pattern of genes - that may predict 20 per cent of children with leukaemia who would require the most invasive cancer treatments - has been discovered by Australian scientists.
The genetic pattern of up to 50 children with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia has been studied by a team of scientists at the WA's Telethon Institute for Child Health Research.
The study revealed a pattern of five genes that was present in all the children who had sufferered from cancer relapse, thus indicating a way to identify children with such risks earlier.
According to Dr Alex Beesley, a genetic test can be designed to identify those among 200 Australian children diagnosed with leukaemia per year, who would require the invasive cancer therapies.
Dr Beesley says, You are looking to give the right treatment to the right patients, to not over-treat the ones who don't need it but also give more aggressive treatment to the ones that do.
He says the gene pattern is key to helping the children who have the risk of cancer relapse and to offer them the best opportunity to getting complete remission.
While the technology for detecting gene pattern among child cancer patients is already available in most hospitals, Dr Beesley says extensive research at an international level is needed.
Dr Beesley is hopeful that if larger trials can confirm the genetic patterns across different patient cohorts, then gene testing could become a regular part of childhood cancer therapy in about 5 years.