Oligodendrogliomas and Heredity

Li Liu, MD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

My brother has recently died from anaplastic oligodendroglioma. One of his doctors said that although not hereditary, siblings may be susceptible. Is this true? Anything I can do to prevent or confirm?

Li Liu, MD, Editorial Assistant for OncoLink, responds:

Dear S:  
Thank you for your interest and question.

The exact causes of primary brain tumors remain unclear. Some occupational and environmental exposures, such as rubber compounds and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) compounds have been suggested as potential risks. N-nitroso compounds and polycyclic hydrocarbons, as well as viral exposure have been linked with brain tumors only in animal models. Several hereditary diseases, such as neurofibromatosis type I (characterized by cutaneous neurofibromas and café-au-lait spots) and neurofibromatosis type II (less common, characterized by bilateral eighth nerve acoustic neuromas as well as neurofibromas and café-au-lait spots) may also be associated with brain malignancy.

Familial oligodendrogliomas are extremely rare. Only a few cases have been reported in the English literature (Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry 1986 Jun;49(6):706-8; Journal of Neurosurgery 1984 Apr;60(4):848-9; Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences 1989 Oct-Dec; 33(4):317-8; Neurosurgery 1994 Apr; 34(4):732-6). Since the etiology of oligodendrogliomas is unknown, there is no preventive measure at present.

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