Childhood acute leukemia: the use of molecular markers in diagnosis
Childhood acute leukemia is a cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow, and it’s most commonly found in children under the age of 10. In order to diagnose childhood acute leukemia, doctors need to perform tests that can detect abnormalities in the DNA or RNA of cancer cells (called molecular markers).
Molecular markers are also used to predict how well a child will respond to treatment and how long they’ll survive after treatment. This information is important because it helps doctors decide what kind of treatment plan is best for each child.
There are two main types of molecular markers: flow cytometry and immunophenotyping. Flow cytometry measures an immune cell’s surface proteins by using fluorescent dyes, which makes them easier to see under a microscope. Immunophenotyping measures the same surface proteins but uses antibodies instead of dyes so that they can be detected without fluorescence microscopy. Both methods have been found effective at detecting leukemic cells, but while flow cytometry can only be performed on whole blood samples, immunophenotyping requires bone marrow biopsies or aspirates (tissue samples).