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Oligodendroglioma is a type of glioma, a tumor that grows from glial cells which make up the brain’s supportive tissue. Oligodendrogliomas grow from oligodendrocytes, glial cells that form a protective covering for nerves in the brain. Oligodendrogliomas most often develop in the cerebrum, and about half occur in the frontal lobe.
Most oligodendrogliomas occur in adults, and they are slightly more common in men. They are very rare in children and teens, accounting for less than 1% of brain tumors in children under 14 years of age.
Oligodendrogliomas can be well differentiated (grade II) or anaplastic (grade III). Treatment usually includes surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Radiation therapy with or without chemotherapy is often used to kill remaining cancer cells. Survival rates for children with oligodendroglioma depend on the tumor grade. Patients with low-grade tumors that are completely removed by surgery have a survival rate greater than 90%.
Oligodendrogliomas are often slow growing. The tumor may be present for years before it causes problems. Symptoms of oligodendroglioma depend on several factors including:
Oligodendroglioma symptoms may include:
About half of patients experience seizures prior to diagnosis. Most patients (about 80%) will have seizures associated with the tumor at some point during the course of their illness.
Doctors test for oligodendroglioma in several ways.
Oligodendroglioma tumors are grouped by how they look under the microscope. The more abnormal the cells look, the higher the grade. Oligondrogliomas are usually grade II or III.
The long-term survival rate for low grade oligodendroglioma is more than 90% when the tumor is completely removed with surgery. If the tumor can’t be completely removed, the survival rate is about 80-85%.
Factors that influence chance of cure include:
Treatment of oligodendroglioma depends on the type of tumor and its location. Doctors also consider the age of the patient. Radiation therapy is not used in very young children because of the potential side effects.
Surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible is the main treatment for oligodendroglioma. In some cases, surgery may not be possible due to the location of the tumor.
Radiation therapy may be used after surgery to kill cancer cells left behind. Radiation therapy depends on the type and location of the tumor and the age of the child.
Chemotherapy is sometimes used in addition to surgery and radiation therapy, especially for high grade tumors. Chemotherapy may be used in infants and young children to delay the use of radiation therapy.
Targeted therapies work by acting on or targeting specific features of the tumor such as genes and proteins. Some targeted therapies that are being studied in oligodendroglioma include vascular endothelial growth factors inhibitors, drugs that help block the growth of new blood vessels.
After treatment for oligodendroglioma, patients will have regular MRI scans to monitor for recurrence. Follow-up should include appropriate rehabilitation and neurological consultation. Steroid and anti-seizure medications may be needed for a period of time.
Reviewed: June 2018