Brain tumours in children

The Queen Mathilde Mother and Child Centre at UZA has a specialist paediatric oncology department headed by Prof. Koen Norga. Under his leadership, research is also being conducted into new cancer treatments for children. This allows us to guarantee that our children will receive the very latest and most advanced treatments. The team led by Prof. Koen Norga is working on this with partners both in Belgium and internationally.

There has been rapid progress in recent decades in the treatment of cancer in children. The average cure rate (survival after five years or more) is about 75% to 80% in children. Although a large proportion of cancers in children can be treated effectively, for some aggressive cancers the cure rate is only about 20% or even lower. Some (more aggressive) brain tumours and metastatic solid tumours are hard to treat and difficult or even impossible to cure.

Every year about twelve children in Belgium are diagnosed with high-grade glioma, an aggressive type of brain tumour. Their chance of survival is low, and about 95% die within five years.

Several years ago the UZA started carrying out scientific research into aggressive brain tumours. A therapeutic vaccine has now been developed, based on dendritic cells, that trains the patient’s own immune system to kill cancer cells. There is scientific evidence that this vaccine, when combined with standard chemotherapy and radiotherapy, may offer benefits for our young patients. A clinical trial is currently being started up that involves giving the DC vaccine to the very first paediatric patients.

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