A trial looking at magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to help diagnose and treat children and young people with brain stem tumours (CNS 2004 11)

Cancer type:

Brain (and spinal cord) tumours
Children's cancers





This trial looked at magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) scans to see if they could help diagnose brain stem tumours in children and young people.

A small number of children and teenagers have a brain tumour of the brain stem. The brain stem runs down from the centre of the brain and connects with the spinal cord.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are used to help diagnose brain stem tumours in children. They are also used to see how well treatment is working. They can tell the doctors where in the brain the tumour is, and how big it is. But MRI scans don’t give the doctors all the information they would like.

Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) scans are similar to MRI scans, but can give extra information. Earlier trials suggested that the MRS scans may be able to give information about the type of brain tumour, how quickly it is growing and whether certain treatments will work. The doctors running this trial wanted to find out more about this.

The aim of this study was to collect information from MRS scans to increase understanding about the diagnosis and treatment of brain stem tumours in children and young people.

Summary of results

The research team found that MRS scans could be useful to help diagnose brain stem tumours in children and young people.

This trial recruited 35 children with brain stem tumours from 4 hospitals. They all had MRI scans and MRS scans.

The results showed that MRS scans did help to diagnose different types of brain tumours in some people. And there were some differences between the levels of certain substances (called metabolites) in different types of brain tumours. These could help doctors decide whether tumours are likely to grow slowly (low grade tumours) or more quickly (high grade tumours).

The research team concluded that MRS scans could be useful alongside MRI scans to give more information about brain tumours and how well treatments are likely to work.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial.  As far as we are aware, the information they sent us has not been reviewed independently (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) or published in a medical journal yet. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Prof Andrew Peet

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group (CCLG)
Department of Health
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Medical Research Council (MRC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 528

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

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"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

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