Background: Heritable germline mutations of the p53 gene have been described in patients with Li-Fraumeni syndrome, occasionally in nonfamilial malignancies such as multifocal osteosarcoma, in a small subgroup of young patients with two or more primary malignancies, and in patients with sporadic breast carcinoma. We recently reported that multifocal gliomas are frequently associated with other primary malignancies, and we hypothesized that genetic alterations may account for this phenomenon. Purpose: We examined the frequency of germline p53 gene mutations in patients with glioma and either multifocality of lesions, history of an additional primary (different) malignancy, or a family history of cancer. Methods: Lymphocytes from 51 glioma patients were analyzed for germline p53 gene mutations using RNA-polymerase chain reaction analysis, single-strand conformation polymorphism, and gene sequencing techniques. Results: Germline p53 gene mutations were detected in six of 19 patients with multifocal glioma, including two with family history of cancer, one with another primary malignancy, and two with all three risk factors; one of four patients with unifocal glioma, another primary malignancy, and a family history of cancer; and two of 15 patients with unifocal glioma and a family history of cancer but no second malignancies. No mutations were detected in the patient with unifocal glioma and another malignancy or in the 12 control patients with unifocal glioma and no second malignancies or family history of cancer. Patients having mutations were younger than other patients in the same group. Conclusions: Germline p53 mutations are frequent in patients with multifocal glioma, glioma and another primary malignancy, and glioma associated with a family history of cancer, particularly if these factors are combined. Implications: Relatives at high risk can be identified for genetic counseling, early cancer detection, and possible enrollment in chemoprevention trials. [J Natl Cancer Inst 86: 344-349, 1994].
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