In 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its classification of Tumor Types of the Central Nervous System. The WHO sponsors a group of pathologists and clinicians who are experts in brain and spinal cord tumors to develop the criteria for how brain tumors are classified and graded. As the scientific field continues to better understand the biology of brain tumors, a separate organization, cIMPACT (the Consortium to Inform Molecular and Practical Approaches to CNS Tumor Taxonomy), periodically reviews and updates new recommendations that guide the WHO’s brain tumor classifications.
These periodic updates make brain tumor classifications more accurate. NBTS published a blog post with more information on what patients need to know about these latest updates. The main takeaway is that, more so than ever before, patients need to understand the molecular makeup of their tumor, which is often accomplished through biomarker testing at the patient’s diagnosis hospital. If their medical center does not have the technology to perform biomarker testing, the patient may consider seeing a brain tumor specialist at a large academic medical center or an NCI-Designated Cancer Center.
Several companies also perform biomarker testing, enabling a patient’s tumor sample to be sent in for analysis.
The results of biomarker testing can provide information about diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment plans.
Biomarkers and Clinical Trials
In “precision medicine,” patients’ biomarkers are used to assign patients to the arm of the trial with the matching therapy that is expected, as seen in other cancers, to be effective for the subset of patients with that biomarker. New clinical trial designs, such as “basket,” “platform,” and “umbrella” trials, incorporate biomarkers of a tumor to help identify which patients may be a good fit for the experimental treatment or which experimental treatment is best for the patients.