Mixed oligoastrocytomas are a type of brain tumor that closely resemble gliomas, the cells that protect and regulate the body’s central nervous system (CNS) and often become cancerous.
Approximately 2 percent of all brain tumors diagnosed are oligoastrocytomas, affecting patients in their early to-mid-40′s.
These tumors are classified as either low grade (less severe) or anaplastic (more aggressive) and are mainly found in the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain.
Signs & Symptoms
Since the mass affects the brain and the CNS, the most obvious symptoms are changes in the body’s motor skills or speech. They may have difficulty finding the word they want to use, or their speech may be slurred. They may also have problems with balance. Seizures and headaches are also very common.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Physicians rely on imaging devices such as a CT/ CAT scan or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to determine whether the mass is an oligoastrocytoma or another type of glioma. These scans, particularly the MRI, can take a detailed image of the mass to be viewed and examined more closely at a later time. A biopsy, in which a small piece of tissue is cut away from the mass and examined under a microscope, can provide a definitive malignant diagnosis.
Surgery is the most common treatment option for this type of tumor. Depending on the size and location of the mass, the physician should be able to remove the entire mass without disturbing the areas of the brain that control the body’s delicate and important functions, like speech or motor control.
Radiation and/or chemotherapy will likely be prescribed as palliative treatment after surgery. Most patients also undergo regular MRI scans to monitor the site of the surgery in an effort to prevent a recurrence. Oligoastrocytomas are very likely to recur even after surgery, and additional procedures may be needed to remove any new tumors.
A patient’s prognosis depends on the size, location, and stage of the mass, and whether the mass is new or recurring. Younger patients or those with lower-grade tumors at the time of diagnosis can expect a very optimistic prognosis. Patients with recurring tumors may have a less positive outlook, depending on how often the mass has returned