Medulloblastoma-biology and microenvironment: a review.
Medulloblastoma (MB) is a cancer of the cerebellum and the most common primary pediatric malignancy of the central nervous system. Classified as a primitive neural ectoderm tumor; it is thought to arise from granule cell precursors in the cerebellum. The standard of care consists of surgery, chemotherapy and age-dependent radiation therapy. Despite aggressive multimodality therapy; approximately 30% of MB patients remain incurable. Moreover, for long-term survivors, the treatment related sequelae are often debilitating. Side effects include cerebellar mutism, sterility, neurocognitive deficits, and a substantial risk of developing secondary cancers. In a quest for more effective and targeted therapies, scientists have begun to investigate the biological events that not only initiate but also sustain the malignant phenotype in MB. Of particular interest is, the role of the tumor microenvironment in tumor pathogenesis. This review seeks to highlight several key processes observed in cancer biology, particularly the involvement of the tumor microenvironment, with relevant examples from MB.