AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 1, 2017

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A Hint of Increased Brain-tumor Risk, Five Years Before Diagnosis

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Research published in the journal PLOS ONE suggests that changes in immune function can occur as long as five years before the diagnosis of a brain tumor that typically only produces symptoms three-months before detection. Using blood samples collected an average of 15- years before brain-tumor diagnosis to analyze interactions between 12 allergy-related proteins, researchers looked at how those relationships differed between people later diagnosed with brain tumors and cancer-free controls. The proteins analyzed, called cytokines, are those activated during an allergy-related immune response. They were selected for this study because of their involvement with allergies, which have been linked to reduced risk for glioma and its most serious form, glioblastoma. These tumors have the power to suppress the immune system, allowing them to grow. The findings suggest the tumor’s early development could lead to detectable immune-function changes years before the actual cancer diagnosis. “The changes we see in immune function suggest there are localized changes long before the usual time of tumor diagnosis,” said one of the study’s lead investigators. “I can’t say which are the most important cytokines because they’re all related to each other and they don’t act alone. But I see a weakening of all of their relationships in glioma patients within five-years before diagnosis, and nothing like that among controls.” To read more about this study, click here.

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