A blastoma is a type of cancer, more common in children, that is caused by malignancies in precursor cells, often called blasts. Examples are nephroblastoma, medulloblastoma and retinoblastoma. The suffix "-blastoma" is used to imply a tumor of primitive, incompletely differentiated (or precursor) cells, e.g., chondroblastoma is composed of cells resembling the precursor of chondrocytes.
Blastomas usually occur in children.
Molecular biology and treatment
Many types of blastoma have been linked to a mutation in tumor suppressor genes. For example, pleuropulmonary blastomas have been linked to a mutation of the coding for p53. However, the mutation which allows proliferation of incompletely differentiated cells can vary from patient to patient and a mutation can alter the prognosis. In the case of retinoblastoma, patients carry a visibly abnormal karyotype, with a loss of function mutation on a specific band of chromosome 13. This recessive deletion on the rb gene is also associated with other cancer types and must be present on both alleles, for a normal cell to progress towards malignancy.  Thus, in the case of common blastomas, such as retinoblastomas, a practitioner may go directly into treatment, but in the case of rarer, more-genetically-linked blastomas, practitioners may karyotype the patient before proceeding with treatment.
Types of blastomas
- Pleuropulmonary blastoma
- Glioblastoma Multiforme
- B. Alberts et al., Molecular Biology of the Cell (5th ed.). New York, Garland Science (2008), web: NCBI Bookshelf.
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