Traumatic Brain Injury and Subsequent Risk of Brain Cancer in US Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

Ian J. Stewart*, Jeffrey T. Howard, Eduard Poltavskiy, Michael Dore, Megan E. Amuan, Krista Ocier, Lauren E. Walker, Karl C. Alcover, Mary Jo Pugh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

While brain cancer is rare, it has a very poor prognosis and few established risk factors. To date, epidemiologic work examining the potential association of traumatic brain injury (TBI) with the subsequent risk of brain cancer is conflicting. Further data may be useful. OBJECTIVE To examine whether a history of TBI exposure is associated with the subsequent development of brain cancer. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS A retrospective cohort studywas conducted from October 1, 2004, to September 20, 2019, and data analysis was performed between January 1 and June 26, 2023. The median follow-up for the cohort was 7.2 (IQR, 4.1-10.1) years. Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DoD) administrative data on 1 919 740 veterans from the Long-Term Impact of Military-Relevant Brain Injury Consortium-Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium were included. EXPOSURE The main exposure of interestwas TBI severity (categorized as mild, moderate or severe [moderate/severe], and penetrating). MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES The outcome of interest was the development of brain cancer based on International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) or International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM) diagnostic codes in either the DoD/VA medical records or from the National Death Index. RESULTS After 611 107 exclusions (predominately for no encounter during the study period), a cohort including 1 919 740 veterans was included, most of whom were male (80.25%) and non-Hispanic White (63.11%). Median age at index date was 31 (IQR, 25-42) years. The cohort included 449 880 individuals with TBI (mild, 385 848; moderate/severe, 46 859; and penetrating, 17 173). Brain cancer occurred in 318 individuals without TBI (0.02%), 80 with mild TBI (0.02%), 17 with moderate/severe TBI (0.04%), and 10 or fewer with penetrating TBI (ϵ0.06%). After adjustment, moderate/severe TBI (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR], 1.90; 95%CI, 1.16-3.12) and penetrating TBI (AHR, 3.33; 95%CI, 1.71-6.49), but not mild TBI (AHR, 1.14; 95%CI, 0.88-1.47), were associated with the subsequent development of brain cancer. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE In this cohort study of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, moderate/severe TBI and penetrating TBI, but not mild TBI, were associated with the subsequent development of brain cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E2354588
JournalJAMA Network Open
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Feb 2024
Externally publishedYes

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