Predicting survival for brain cancer patients


Is it possible to predict survival for patients with oligodendroglioma from aberrations in their DNA? According to a 2006 study by Rebecca Betensky and colleagues, the answer is yes.

An analysis of DNA in 93 patients was completed for regions labeled “1p” and “19q” on pairs of chromosomes 1 and 19. At a total of 19 locations, researchers wanted to know whether or not each patient had lost DNA from one arm, a lopsided condition known as loss of heterozygosity (LOH). At each location, or marker, this chart plots the probability of LOH.

Sorted in this way, patients fell into three distinct groups—classes 1, 2, and 3, shown in red, yellow, and blue. Patients in class 3 are likely to live much longer than patients in classes 1 and 2. The picture may change, however. The biostatisticians plan to factor into their classification algorithm actual survival times, along with LOH data from hundreds of additional markers identified by sophisticated DNA screening technologies, Betensky says.

Source: Biometrics, 2006.