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Int J Cancer. 2003 Aug 20;106(2):260-3.

Familial brain tumours-genetics or environment? A nationwide cohort study of cancer risk in spouses and first-degree relatives of brain tumour patients.

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Department of Radiation Sciences, Oncology, Umeå University Hospital, Umeå, Sweden.


Our study investigated whether the familial aggregation of glioma is due to environmental or genetic effects and it investigated and compared the risk to spouses and first-degree relatives (FDR) of patients with primary brain tumours (PBT) for developing both PBT and the risk for other types of cancer. All PBT patients identified in Sweden from 1958-97 in The Swedish Cancer Registry (SCR) were linked to the nationwide Swedish Family Database, including persons in Sweden born from 1932-97. The cohorts of spouses and FDR were linked to the SCR to identify observed cases of PBT and other cancer. Standardised incidence ratios (SIR) were calculated using the incidence rates from SCR as the reference. We found that there were no increased risks for any specific type of PBT in the cohort of spouses. In the FDR cohort, generally the risk for a PBT was significantly increased by 2 to 3 times for the same histopathology as the probands. Spouses of PBT patients had an increased risk of skin cancer. We conclude that FDR, not spouses, have a significantly increased risk, which indicates a genetic origin of the familial aggregation of brain tumours.

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