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Does Risk of Brain Cancer Increase with Intracranial Volume? A Population-Based Case-Control Study.

Journal article
Authors Even Hovig Fyllingen
Tor Ivar Hansen
Asgeir Store Jakola
Asta Kristine Håberg
Øyvind Salvesen
Ole Solheim
Published in Neuro-oncology
Volume 20
Issue 9
Pages 1225–1230
ISSN 1523-5866
Publication year 2018
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience
Pages 1225–1230
Language en
Subject categories Neurosurgery, Cancer and Oncology, Neurology


Glioma is the most common primary brain tumor and is believed to arise from glial stem cells. Despite large efforts there are limited established risk factors. It has been suggested that tissue with more stem cells may exhibit higher risk of cancer due to chance alone. Assuming a positive correlation between the number of stem cell divisions in an organ and size of the same organ, we hypothesized that variation in intracranial volume, as a proxy for brain size may be linked to risk of high-grade glioma.Intracranial volume was calculated from pre-treatment 3D T1-weighted MRI brain scans from 124 patients with high-grade glioma and 995 general population based controls. Binomial logistic regression analyses were performed to ascertain the effect of intracranial volume and sex on the likelihood that participants have high-grade glioma.An increase in intracranial volume of 100 mL was associated with an odds ratio (OR) of high-grade glioma of 1.69 (95 % CI 1.44 to 1.98; P < 0.001). After adjusting for intracranial volume, female sex emerged as a risk factor for high-grade glioma (OR for male sex = 0.56, 95 % CI 0.33 to 0.93; P = 0.026).Intracranial volume is strongly associated with risk of high-grade glioma. After correcting for intracranial volume, risk of high-grade glioma was higher in women. The development of glioma is correlated to brain size and may to a large extent be a stochastic event related to the number of cells at risk.

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