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Molecular Testing

Molecular testing is used to look at the genetic material inside a tumor to make treatment more precise.

About Molecular Testing

After doctors look at your child’s tumor cells under a microscope, they may also ask for molecular testing to look at the DNA and genetic material inside the tumor cells.

Doctors sometimes call these tests “next-generation sequencing” or “whole exome sequencing.” These tests look for changes in genes found in specific kinds of tumors.

Genes are pieces of DNA that are passed from parent to child that contain information for making specific proteins inside cells. Sometimes genes get damaged or changed (called mutation), which causes tumors to grow.

The results of molecular testing won’t change your child’s diagnosis, but they can make the diagnosis more precise and help your child’s doctor choose the best treatment.

Looking at the genes inside tumor cells can also help doctors find out if your child is a good match for a clinical trial.

Molecular testing results often take 4-6 weeks.

Considerations for Families

Molecular testing may reveal information about diseases that run in your child’s family.

Doctors may recommend that you get genetic counseling from a professional trained in inherited diseases to help you think through what the results of molecular testing might mean for your child and your family.

Molecular Characterization Initiative

Children, adolescents, and young adults who are newly diagnosed with a brain tumor and who receive care at a hospital connected with the Children’s Oncology Group can participate in a program called the Molecular Characterization Initiative.

You can learn more about the Childhood Cancer Data Initiative Molecular Characterization Initiative on the National Cancer Institute’s website.


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