UK case control study of brain tumours in children, teenagers and young adults: A pilot study

Richard G. Feltbower, Sarah J. Fleming, Susan V. Picton, Robert D. Alston, Diana Morgan, Janice Achilles, Patricia A. McKinney, Jillian M. Birch

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: Tumours of the central nervous system are the second most common group of childhood cancers in 0-14 year olds (24% of total cancers) and represent a major diagnostic group in 15-24 year olds. The pilot case-control study aimed to establish methodologies for a future comprehensive aetiological investigation among children and young adults. Methods. Eligible cases were newly diagnosed with an intracranial tumour of neuroepithelial tissue aged 0-24 years. The pilot recruited patients through Leeds and Manchester Principal Treatment Centres. Controls were drawn from general practice lists. Controls were frequency matched by age and gender. Results: We interviewed 49 cases and 78 controls comprising 85% of the target sample size. Response rates were 52% for cases and 32% for controls. Completion of the questionnaire was successful, with a very small proportion of missing data being reported (5-10%). The age distribution of cases and controls was similar with around three-quarters of interviewed subjects aged 0-14. Half of cases and almost two-thirds of controls reported using a mobile phone with the majority starting between 10-14 years of age. Prevalence of breastfeeding was lower in cases than controls (Odds Ratio 0.4; 95% CI 0.2-1.2), whilst cases were more likely to be delivered by caesarean section (OR 1.6; 95% CI 0.6-4.4). Cases were significantly more likely to have a birthweight > 3.5 kg compared to controls. Cases were also more likely to come from a family with 3 or more siblings than controls (OR 3.0; 95% CI 0.7-13.6). The majority of participants (>80%) were in favour of taking either blood or saliva to aid molecular epidemiological research. Conclusions: Successful methods were established for identifying and recruiting a high proportion of case subjects, exploiting strong links with the clinical teams at the treatment centres. Control procedures proved more difficult to implement. However, working closely with national clinical and professional research networks will enable improved control identification and recruitment, with good prospects for collecting biological samples in the future. © 2014 Feltbower et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number14
    JournalBMC Research Notes
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2014


    • Adolescent
    • Aetiology
    • Brain tumour
    • Case-control study
    • Children


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