FISH and chips: the recipe for improved prognostication and outcomes for children with medulloblastoma

Cancer Genet. 2011 Nov;204(11):577-88. doi: 10.1016/j.cancergen.2011.11.001.


Rapidly evolving genomic technologies have permitted progressively detailed studies of medulloblastoma biology in recent years. These data have increased our understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of medulloblastoma, identified prognostic markers, and suggested future avenues for targeted therapy. Although current randomized trials are still stratified based largely on clinical variables, the use of molecular markers is approaching routine use in the clinic. In particular, integrated genomics has uncovered that medulloblastoma comprises four distinct molecular and clinical variants: WNT, sonic hedgehog (SHH), group 3, and group 4. Children with WNT medulloblastoma have improved survival, whereas those with group 3 medulloblastoma have a dismal prognosis. Additionally, integrated genomics has shown that adult medulloblastoma is molecularly and clinically distinct from the childhood variants. Prognostic and predictive markers identified by genomics should drive changes in stratification of treatment protocols for medulloblastoma patients on clinical trials once they can be demonstrated to be reliable, reproducible, and practical. Cases with excellent prognoses (WNT cases) should be considered for therapy de-escalation, whereas those with bleak prognoses (group 3 cases) should be prioritized for experimental therapy. In this review, we will summarize the genomic data published over the past decade and attempt to interpret its prognostic significance, relevance to the clinic, and use in upcoming clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebellar Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Cerebellar Neoplasms / mortality
  • Child
  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Comparative Genomic Hybridization
  • Epigenomics
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Karyotyping
  • Medulloblastoma / genetics*
  • Medulloblastoma / mortality
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / methods*
  • Oncogenes
  • Prognosis