Individuals whose immediate relatives suffered from glioblastomas -- usually a fast-growing and deadly type of tumor in the brain or spinal cord -- had twice the risk of contracting the same kind of cancer, concluded the authors of the research, published in the September 23 issue of the journal Neurology.
People with close relatives who contracted astrocytomas -- a less aggressive grade of glioblastomas -- were nearly four times more likely to develop the same type of tumor, compared with people whose close relatives did not contract any brain cancer.
The study examines the medical records of 1,401 Americans with primary brain tumors, and three generations of each participant's family medical history.
"Our study suggests that people with a family history of brain tumors should make their doctor aware of this and tell them about any other risk factors they have," said study author Deborah Blumenthal with the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv, Israel, and the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
"Hopefully studies like these will eventually help us to identify genes that may be responsible for these types of brain tumors," Blumenthal said.
An estimated 20,500 cases of new primary brain tumors were diagnosed in the United States in 2005, half of which were gliomas, or cancerous brain tumors.
The study was funded by the US National Institutes of Health and the Utah Department of Health.