It is not possible to treat DIPG by removing tumors surgically, but surgical biopsies to remove small amounts of tumor tissue for diagnostic testing are sometimes performed. Most diagnoses of DIPG are made from imaging scans such as MRI. Because of the risks of the procedure, surgical biopsy has usually only been performed when it has not been possible to confirm a diagnosis based on imaging. In the United States and Canada, most doctors do not generally recommend biopsy, and few patients undergo the procedure.
However, recent research has shown that advanced stereotactic surgical techniques greatly reduce the risks of surgical biopsy, which can sometimes yield useful diagnostic information and influence treatment decisions. Stereotactic surgical biopsy has now become a routine part of the diagnostic process at some European centers.
As researchers learn more about the genetics and biology of DIPG, they may discover that there are, in fact, important differences between different patients’ tumors. These differences could help physicians target future therapies to the right patients. In this case, surgical biopsy could become an important tool in treating the disease in the future.
Tumor tissue left over from surgical biopsy, as well as tumor tissue donated by families after children with DIPG have died, can be very helpful to researchers studying DIPG.Learn About Recurrence / Relapse