Gene Variant Raises Risk for Brain Cancer at Young Age

MONDAY Jan. 26, 2009 -- A gene variant that may increase the risk of developing brain cancer at a young age has been identified by French researchers.

They studied 254 people with malignant brain tumors and 238 people with no cancers. The brain tumor patients all had glioblastoma multiforme, the most common type of brain cancer. Patients survive an average of 12 to 15 months.

The researchers used blood samples to look at a gene called TP53, which acts as a tumor suppressor and is involved in preventing cancer. Brain tumor patients younger than 45 years old were more likely to have the Pro/Pro variant of the TP53 gene than older people with brain tumors or healthy people.

The Pro/Pro variant was present in 20.6 percent of the younger people with brain tumors, compared to 6.4 percent of older brain tumor patients and 5.9 percent of healthy people.

"Eventually, we may be able to use this knowledge to help identify people who have a higher risk of developing brain tumors at an early age. However, the risk of this population remains low, even multiplied by three or four as shown here, because these brain tumors [glioblastomas] are infrequent in young people," study author Dr. Marc Sanson, of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), said in an American Academy of Neurology news release.

The study was published in the Jan. 27 issue of Neurology.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about brain tumors.

Posted: January 2009


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