Genetic epidemiology of childhood brain tumors

Melissa Lynn Bondy, The University of Texas School of Public Health


A rare familial cancer syndrome involving childhood brain tumors (CBT), breast cancer, sarcomas and an array of other tumors has been described (Li and Fraumeni 1969, 1975, 1982, 1987). A survey of CBT identified through the Connnecticut Tumor Registry in 1984 revealed a high frequency of CBT, leukemia and other childhood cancer in siblings of CBT patients (Farwell and Flannery, 1984). Other syndromes such as neurofibromatosis and nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome have also been associated with CBT; however, no systematic family studies have been conducted to determine the extent to which cancer aggregates in family members of CBT patients. This family study was designed to determine the frequency of cancer aggregation overall or at specific sites, to determine the frequency of known or potentially hereditary syndromes in families of CBT patients, and to determine a genetic model to characterize familial cancer syndromes and to identify specific kindreds to which such a model(s) might apply. This study includes 244 confirmed CBT patients referred to the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center between the years 1944 and 1983, diagnosed under the age of 15 years and resident in the U.S. or Canada. Family histories were obtained on the proband's first (parents, siblings and offspring) and second degree (proband's aunts, uncles and grandparents) relatives following sequential sampling scheme rules. To determine if cancer aggregates in families, we compared the cancer experience in the population to that expected in the general population using Connecticut Tumor Registry calendar year, age, race and sex-specific rates. The standardized incidence ratio (SIR) for cancer overall was 0.91 (41 observed (O) and 44.94 expected (E); 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 0.65-1.24). We observed a significant excess of colon cancer among the proband's first degree relatives (O/E = 5/1.64; 95% CI = 1.01-7.65), in particular those under age 45 year. Segregation analysis showed evidence for multifactorial inheritance in the small percentage (N = 5) of the families.

Subject Area

Surgery|Genetics|Public health

Recommended Citation

Bondy, Melissa Lynn, "Genetic epidemiology of childhood brain tumors" (1990). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9109972.