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Clin Otolaryngol. 2007 Feb;32(1):7-11.

The genetics of paragangliomas: a review.

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Specialist Registrar, ENT West Midlands Deanery, Birmingham, West Midlands, UK.


Familial head and neck paragangliomas account for approximately 10% of all head and neck paragangliomas. There are three known genes associated with genetic susceptibility to head and neck paragangliomas: succinate dehydrogenase complex subunit 'D', 'B' and 'C' (SDHD, SDHB and SDHC). The genes most frequently implicated: SDHD and SDHB, also predispose to phaeochromocytoma. SDHD shows a complex inheritance pattern - tumours do not develop if the mutation is inherited from the mother. SDHB mutations are associated with malignant phaeochromocytoma. Patients who present with a family history of paraganglioma or phaeochromocytoma, with multiple tumours, or early onset tumours (<50 years), should be referred for genetic investigation.

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