Together is a new resource for anyone affected by pediatric cancer - patients and their parents, family members, and friends.Learn More
Oligodendroglioma is a type of brain tumor known as a glioma. This tumor gets its name from oligodendrocytes, cells that cover and protect nerves in the brain.
Oligodendrogliomas can occur most often in the white matter of the cerebrum. White matter is a network of pale-colored nerve fibers in the brain. White-matter cells transmit messages from one part of the brain to another.
About half of all oligodendrogliomas are in the frontal lobe.
Most oligodendrogliomas occur in adults. They are rare in children and teens. These tumors make up less than 1% of brain tumors in children younger than 14.
Survival rates for children with oligodendroglioma depend on the tumor grade and success of surgery. Patients with low-grade tumors that are completely removed by surgery have a survival rate above 90%.
Your child’s care team is the best source of information about your child’s case.
An oligodendroglioma often grows slowly. It may be present for years before it causes problems. Signs and symptoms of oligodendroglioma depend on the child’s age, tumor size and location, and how fast the tumor grows.
Oligodendroglioma symptoms may include:
About half of patients experience seizures before diagnosis. Most patients (about 80%) will have seizures at some point during their illness.
The cause of oligodendroglioma is unknown. But certain genetic changes in cells are linked to these tumors.
Oligodendrogliomas usually occur in adults. They are more common in males. Childhood oligodendrogliomas are most often seen in teens and young adults.
Doctors test for oligodendroglioma in several ways.
Oligodendrogliomas are graded by how they look under the microscope. The more abnormal the cells look, the higher the grade. Oligodendrogliomas are usually grade 2 or 3.
Treatment of oligodendroglioma depends on:
Aggressive tumors need more intensive treatment. Doctors also consider the patient’s age.
Radiation therapy is not used in young children because of the risk of side effects.
After treatment, patients will have regular MRI scans to check for recurrence (if cancer has come back). Patients may need steroids and anti-seizure medicines for a time.
Oligodendroglioma is much more common in adults than children. Less is known about the prognosis for young patients. Overall, children have better outcomes than adults.
The 5-year survival rate for childhood oligodendroglioma is greater than 80%. But treatment outcomes can vary widely based on the success of surgery, age at diagnosis, features of the tumor, and other factors. Recurrence is common, even among long-term survivors.
Outcomes vary based on:
Every case is different. Your care provider can give you more information about your child’s case.
Recovery and long-term effects of oligodendroglioma in children and teens depend on features of the tumor and treatments received. Your child will need ongoing follow-up care, lab tests, and routine MRI scans to monitor for recurrence or progression. Survivors of oligodendroglioma also should be monitored for late effects of therapy.
Your child’s care team will give you a survivorship care plan after treatment ends. This report includes needed tests and tips for a healthful lifestyle. Your care plan should also include referrals to support services such as neurology, rehabilitation therapy, school services, and psychology.
All cancer survivors should adopt healthy lifestyle habits. It is important to have regular medical checkups by a primary care physician.
Low-grade gliomas, including some oligodendrogliomas, are often a chronic or long-term disease. Although the long-term survival rate for low-grade glioma is high, the tumor often comes back or progresses over time.
Your child may need more treatments over many years of follow-up. This means the risk is higher for complications related to the tumor or treatment. There may also be times when the tumor shows growth on a scan, but the care team suggests observation instead of treatment.
Good communication and trust among your family, your child, and the care team are important.
Reviewed: June 2023