Oligodendroglioma is a type of glioma, a tumor that starts in the brain or spine. Oligodendroglioma is believed to originate from oligodendrocytes that are a type of brain cell. The cause of oligodendroglioma is unknown. They can occur in both children and adults with the average age of diagnosis being 35 years old.
Oligodendroglioma occur most often in the frontal lobe of the brain and this can have an effect on a patient’s personality. Oligodendroglioma make up approximately 5 – 19% of all brain tumors. They are found in men twice as often as they are found in women.
Oligodendroglioma Signs & Symptoms
The first and sometimes the only symptom of oligodendroglioma are seizures. Approximately 80% of patients experience seizures in varying degrees from mild to severe. Other symptoms can include headaches, vision loss, and motor weaknesses. The exact functions affected depend on the location and size of the tumor and how it is affecting the areas surrounding it.
Doctors perform many tests initially to rule out other possible causes of seizures. Oligodendroglioma are diagnosed initially with an MRI scan which can show the size and location of the tumor. For a complete diagnosis physicians must do a biopsy of the tumor. Oligodendroglioma look very similar to another type of brain tumor called an astrocytoma. It is important to determine the correct type of tumor in order to determine the best treatment plan.
Oligodendroglioma cannot be 100% surgically removed due to the risk of also removing healthy tissue, but this has traditionally been the first line of treatment. In some cases though surgeons can remove enough of the tumor to alleviate any pressure it is putting on other parts of the brain. Oligodendroglioma are slow growing tumors, especially in comparison to astrocytoma. “Watchful waiting” is sometimes the best form of treatment. Neurosurgery, chemotherapy and radiation can be effective treatments, but they can also sometimes cause harm to surrounding healthy cells.
Prognosis figures for patients with an oligodendroglioma vary. This is due to the different factors that are, or are not, taken into consideration in different clinical trials. In addition there are always new treatments being tested so much of the data becomes quickly outdated. For more information check out the National Brain Tumor Society.