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The relative risk of brain cancer
Date:11/12/2008

able genealogic material spanning at least three generations. Data dates back to the early 1800s. The study effectively eliminates environmental factors by looking at extended family relations.

"The study is unique in that that we were able to go back so far in tracking genealogy records," notes Prof. Blumenthal. "Another special aspect of this study is that we've been able to identify high-risk pedigree families, in some cases with 5,000 or more descendants."

Even if brain cancer already appears in your family, the likelihood of it occurring in descendants and relatives is still quite low. There are only about 17,000 primary brain tumors found in Americans every year, of which half are high grade. Less than 5% of these relatively rare brain cancers are hereditary. Consequently, the risk of inheriting the "genes" of a brain tumor from a parent or grandparent is low. What's exciting, she says, is that the scientific community now has a population of high-risk families they may be able to help and utilize to further genetic investigations.

Necessary Steps Before Prevention

With blood and tissue samples, researchers hope to find genes that are associated with brain tumors, and determine those at risk with greater certainty. Though such identification may be years away, this current study is foundational, setting the stage for early screening of people at risk so preventative measures can be taken before any tumor develops.

Prof. Blumenthal emphasizes, "The risks of having such a hereditary tumor are very low. Reporting to your family doctor that brain cancer runs in the family just gives a more comprehensive picture of your medical history. It may provide doctors and family members with useful information."


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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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