Brain Tumor Study Highlights Differences Among Hispanics

August 23, 2022 by TWN Staff
Brain Tumor Study Highlights Differences Among Hispanics
Research at the Duke University School of Medicine. (Photo credit: Duke University via flickr)

DURHAM, N.C. — Though typically classified as a single ethnic group, people of Hispanic heritage have markedly different risks for brain tumors based on their geographic origins, according to a new study by a team of researchers at Duke Health.

Their findings, based on an analysis of glioma brain tumors, were published in the journal Neuro-Oncology.

“Cancer registries record Hispanic ethnicity with a single yes-no value, but U.S. Hispanics can trace their heritage to distinct geographical regions and are both culturally and genetically diverse,” said lead author Kyle Walsh, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Duke University School of Medicine, in a written statement.

The researchers — including senior author Quinn T. Ostrom, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurosurgery at Duke — analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States.

Compared with populations from Mexico and Central America, researchers found higher rates of of gliomas among Hispanics from Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and other areas of the Caribbean.

“These differences appear partially attributable to ancestry-associated genetic differences across U.S. Hispanic populations,” Walsh said.

While greater European ancestry is associated with an elevated risk of glioma, African ancestry has been associated with better survival outcomes. 

In the Caribbean region, where enslaved people from Africa arrived in large numbers, populations inherited the higher incidence of glioma from European ancestry, along with the improved survival tendency from African heritage.

Walsh said structural and economic factors are likely to contribute as well, particularly in influencing patient survival. 

“We demonstrate that appropriately recognizing and accounting for the cultural, socioeconomic, and genetic diversity that exists within U.S. Hispanics is imperative when examining cancer disparities,” Walsh said.

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