Epidemiology and Brain Tumours: Practical Usefulness
European Association of NeuroOncology Magazine 2013; 3 (2): 56-60
Keywords: brain tumour, epidemiology, ionizing radiation, neurology, nonionizing radiation, research, risk factor, risk group, susceptibility loci
Primary brain tumours are rare tumours which occur across all ages and comprise a large spectrum of different entities. This review compiles population-based information on age distribution, gender predilection, ethnical disparities, geographic variations, and time trends in the incidence of primary brain tumours. Unlike clinical trials, which are proneto selection bias, populationbased incidence and mortality data provide a comprehensive picture of the real-life scenario and are thus of high relevance to the neuro-oncology community. Descriptive epidemiology further constitutes the basis for all risk factor research. With regard to primary brain tumours, only few risk factors including certain germ-line mutations and exposure to ionizing radiation are known to date. Latest results from epidemiological studies focusing on the exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from mobile phones and their implications are addressed. However, not only environmental risk factor research but also the incorporation of molecular techniques in epidemiological study designs has considerably contributed to our present-day knowledge. Herein, the latest findings on genetic risk loci and tumour-specific sub- and risk groups are highlighted. Hence, the translation of all those findings into clinical applicability is now a major aim and largely depends on the development of practical, robust, and widely accepted biomarkers, which will pave the way for individualized patient treatment.