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Incidence of von Hippel-Lindau Disease in Hemangioblastoma Patients: The University of Tokyo Hospital Experience from 1954–1998

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Incidence of von Hippel-Lindau disease among hemangioblastomas is important clinical information affecting the management of hemangioblastomas. Studies from Western countries reported 36–40% for the incidence, but no report has been made on the Japanese population.


To investigate the incidence in Japan, we retrospectively analyzed all hemangioblastoma patients treated at The University of Tokyo Hospital from 1954 to 1998. By reviewing medical records and imaging studies, von Hippel-Lindau disease was diagnosed clinically following the currently suggested diagnostic criteria.


There were 82 hemangioblastoma patients recorded during the period, and 14 cases (17%) were compatible with von Hippel-Lindau disease. However, when the incidence was calculated for each of the three 15-year periods, which are 1954–1968 (first), 1969–1984 (second), and 1985–1998 (third), the number increased dramatically in the later periods: 2 of 33 (6%) during the first, 4 of 26 (15%) during the second, and 8 of 22 (36%) during the third period. Such increase occurred after the introduction of whole body CT to our institution in 1981, suggesting that improvement of imaging techniques contributed to the sensitivity of diagnosis. In addition, one recent patient with multiple hemangioblastomas was found to harbor germline mutation of the VHL, thereby being diagnosed as von Hippel-Lindau disease on the basis of molecular genetics.


The 40% incidence of von Hippel-Lindau disease in hemangioblastomas suggests that extensive screening for von Hippel-Lindau disease associated neoplasms, and probably molecular genetic examination, is indicated for all patients with hemangioblastomas, which should aim for earlier diagnosis and better management of this devastating hereditary disease.

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Sora, S., Ueki, K., Saito, N. et al. Incidence of von Hippel-Lindau Disease in Hemangioblastoma Patients: The University of Tokyo Hospital Experience from 1954–1998. Acta Neurochir (Wien) 143, 893–896 (2001).

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