Oligodendroglioma is a type of rare tumor that develops in the brain or spinal cord from glial cells (a type of brain cell) called oligodendrocytes. These cells help protect nerves. It occurs most often in the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain.
Oligodendrogliomas progress gradually, which gives patients a longer survival time. Though the tumor can occur in children, it is most common in adult men and women, typically over the age of 40. Treatment depends on the grade of the tumor. Regardless of treatment, there is a high oligodendroglioma recurrence rate.
There are three types of oligodendroglioma:
The cause of oligodendroglioma is still unknown, though certain risk factors exist:
Symptoms of oligodendroglioma vary by location in the brain, size and type or grade of the tumor. In earlier stages, oligodendroglioma symptoms can be misdiagnosed as a stroke. Further tumor progression that causes more symptoms is often what causes the correct diagnosis.
The most common symptoms of oligodendroglioma are:
If located in the frontal lobe of the brain, oligodendroglioma may cause:
If the tumor is located in the temporal lobe, there are often no or very few symptoms, with the rare, but possible chance of seizures or language problems.
Tests and procedures used to diagnose oligodendroglioma include:
Surgery is the preferred treatment option for oligodendroglioma, if the tumor is in a surgically accessible area. A neurosurgeon removes as much of the tumor as possible while avoiding healthy brain tissue.
Additional treatments are often recommended after surgery if any tumor cells are unable to be removed and/or if a high risk exists for the tumor to grow back. Chemotherapy and radiation are often recommended after surgery to help prevent the tumor from returning. Regular MRI scans are recommended following a successful removal of low-grade oligodendrogliomas.
In the case of anaplastic oligodendroglioma, radiation and chemotherapy are typically used in combination. If the tumor is recurrent (comes back), surgery in combination with chemotherapy is often recommended.
Other treatments for oligodendroglioma include:
Palliative care focuses on relieving symptoms caused by the tumor, but is not a treatment. Palliative care specialists work to provide pain relief and relieving other symptoms as well as providing an extra support team that works alongside other members of the treatment team. Palliative care is often used during treatment, especially aggressive treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Though completely eliminating the tumor or disease process is rare, oligodendroglioma has a higher brain cancer survival rate than most other brain tumors due to their slow growth and usually excellent response to treatment. Prolonging the life expectancy of someone with an oligodendroglioma is possible.
Life expectancy depends on the grade of the tumor, how early it is diagnosed, its location and individual factors, such as comorbidities (other disease conditions present). Life expectancy statistics are not predictive as they do not account for individual factors, such as overall health.
On average, people with a grade II oligodendroglioma are likely to live about 12 years after diagnosis. People with a grade III oligodendroglioma live an average of 3.5 years after diagnosis.
Quality of life after brain tumor treatment is greatly affected for the better by rehabilitation. Brain tumors affect parts of the brain that control motor skills, speech, vision and thinking. Rehabilitation is often a necessary part of recovery, such as:
A brain tumor diagnosis can feel scary and overwhelming. The many emotions attached to this diagnosis can make dealing with treatment feel even more difficult. At Neurosurgical Associates of Central Jersey, we take care of the whole person, not just a diagnosis. We work with you as we establish the best treatment plan for your individual case and stay with you throughout your journey. Learn how our compassionate care can help you or a loved one by contacting us to make an appointment with one of our specialists.