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Researchers Discover Differences in Childhood Brain Tumor Development

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A collaborative research team led by Dr. Kimberly Johnson, MPH, PhD, Assistant Professor at Washington University, recently published the largest study to date looking at racial and ethnic differences in pediatric brain tumor diagnoses among individuals with Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1).
The results of this study confirmed those of smaller studies indicating that individuals with European ancestry are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with a pediatric brain tumor than those with other ancestries. Optic pathway gliomas are the most commonly diagnosed brain tumor in children with NF1, affecting 15-20% of children with NF1. However, the risk factors that predispose people to these tumors is currently not well understood.
The current study included data from a total of 2,038 individuals with NF1 who were identified from the Washington University NF1 Patient Registry Initiative (NPRI) and from the Clinical Investigation Data Exploration Repository (CIDER), a comprehensive inpatient and outpatient research patient data warehouse. Dr. Johnson and her team found that individuals with reported Black, Asian and other/unknown race had a significantly lower odds of a pediatric brain tumor diagnosis compared to those with reported White race.
While genetic, social and environmental factors must all be considered as an explanation for this finding, these data should stimulate further investigations, including those aimed at identifying genetic markers that may influence the risk of developing a brain tumor.
Abadin SA, Zoellner NL, Schaeffer M, Porcelli B, Gutmann DH, Johnson KJ. Racial/ethnic differences in pediatric brain tumor diagnoses in individuals with Neurofibromatosis Type 1. J Pediatrics. 2015 May 28 PMID: 26028287