November 13, 2008

Study: Brain Cancer Runs in Families

Relatives of those with brain cancer have a higher risk of brain cancer themselves, researchers in Israel said.

Dr. Deborah Blumenthal, co-director of Tel Aviv University's Neuro-oncology Service at the Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, said that a family history of brain cancer, like those of other cancers, should be reported to the family doctor during a routine medical checkup.

Previous research has shown that breast, colon and prostate cancers run in families.

The study, using data from the Utah Population Data Base at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, was unique in the large number of cases examined, which tracked back at least three generations and as far as 10 generations in some families.

The study was conducted on medical records of nearly 1,500 people from Utah who had available genealogic material spanning at least three generations. Data date back to the early 1800s.

The brain tumors studied by the researchers include glioblastoma, the same tumor afflicting U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who has been undergoing treatment since June.

"Until now, brain tumors were not thought to be an inheritable disease," Blumenthal said in a statement.

The study is published in the current issue of Neurology.