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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Gliomatosis cerebri

See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Your Question

Is gliomatosis cerebri a disease that can be passed from generation to generation or that can be carried by one person and passed to another later on? My great aunt has been diagnosed with this cancer and I worry that my child might inherit it.

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is gliomatosis cerebri?

Gliomatosis cerebri is a type of brain cancer.  It is a variant form of glioblastoma multiforme.[1] It is characterized by scattered and widespread tumor cells that can cause the cerebrum, cerebellum, or brain stem to enlarge.[2] Signs and symptoms may include personality changes, memory disturbance, headache, hemiparesis, and seizures.[2][3]  Because this tumor is so diffuse it can be challenging to treat and the prognosis for people with gliomatosis cerebri is generally poor.[2][3]
Last updated: 3/5/2009

Can gliomatosis cerebri be passed through families?

Currently, the underlying cause of gliomatosis cerebri is poorly understood. After an extensive search of the medical literature we were unable to find information that would suggest that this type of cancer tends to run in families. Still we have provided you with some general information on genes and cancer that we hope will help you better understand the role gene mutations may play in cancer and how gene mutations can occur.
Last updated: 3/5/2009

What is cancer?

Cancer occurs when cells in the body become abnormal, grow out of control, and have the ability to spread to other parts of the body (metastasize). Cancer is a result of uncontrolled cell division and growth.[4]
Last updated: 3/5/2009

What causes cancer?

Cancer is caused by a number of things, including gene mutations, environmental exposures, medical factors, and lifestyle factors.
Last updated: 3/5/2009

What are gene mutations?

A gene mutation is a permanent change in the DNA sequence that makes up a gene. Our genes tell our bodies how to grow and function.[5]
Last updated: 3/5/2009

How do gene mutations occur?

Gene mutations occur in two ways: they can be inherited from a parent or acquired during a person’s lifetime. Mutations that are passed from parent to child are called hereditary mutations. This type of mutation is present throughout a person’s life in virtually every cell in the body. Acquired mutations occur in the DNA of individual cells at some time during a person’s life. These changes can be caused by environmental factors such as ultraviolet radiation from the sun, or can occur if a mistake is made as DNA copies itself during cell division. Acquired mutations cannot be passed on to the next generation.[5]

Both hereditary gene mutations and acquired gene mutations can contribute to the cause of cancer.[5]

Last updated: 3/5/2009

How can I learn more about how gene mutations can contribute to cancer?

You can obtain more information on cancer genetics by calling the National Cancer Institute Cancer Information Service (CIS) toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) or by visiting their Web site at CIS provides the most current information on cancer for patients, health professionals, and the general public.

Public Inquiries Office
Cancer Information Service Branch
Room 3036A
6116 Executive Blvd., MSC 8322
Bethesda, MD 20892-8322
Toll free:  800-4-CANCER
Web site:

Last updated: 3/5/2009

Who can I talk to if I think cancer may be running in my family?

If you believe cancer may be running in your family, we recommend that you speak with your healthcare provider. You can also consider speaking with a genetics professional. Genetics professionals are a source of information for individuals and families regarding genetic diagnosis, natural history, treatment, mode of inheritance, and genetic risks to other family members. To find a genetics clinic, we recommend that you contact your primary doctor for a referral. Click here to learn more about genetic consultations.

The following online resources can also help you find a genetics professional in your community:

  * GeneTests - A searchable directory of US and international genetics and prenatal diagnosis clinics. Go to the following link and click on 'Clinic Directory' to find a genetic service close to you.

  * ResourceLink - A database of genetics counseling services, searchable by location, name, institution, type of practice, or specialty. Hosted by the National Society of Genetic Counselors.

  * Genetic Centers, Clinics, and Departments - A comprehensive resource list for genetic counseling, including links to genetic centers and clinics, associations, and university genetics departments. Hosted by the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Last updated: 3/18/2009

See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.