Sparing children from risky brain surgery

Dr Cynthia Hawkins, CCS-funded researcher
Dr Cynthia Hawkins, CCS-funded researcher

Brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer-related death in children. Of these, one of the most serious and hard-to-treat is diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). To confirm a DIPG diagnosis, children must undergo brain surgery — which is extremely risky itself.

With your support, Dr Cynthia Hawkins and her team have developed a revolutionary new test that will spare children from this difficult surgery. They’ve discovered that roughly 80% of DIPG tumours have a specific genetic mutation — and have developed a new diagnostic test that can detect this mutation in cerebrospinal fluid, diagnosing cancer without the need for dangerous surgery.

Not only has this test been clinically validated for safety and effectiveness, but it will be implemented at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto later this year — where it will make the cancer experience as easy as possible for children and their families.

“CCS has kept my lab going for the past 6 years,” says Dr Hawkins. “It’s allowed us to do the work to find these answers. Your support has made an incredible difference for children.”