Glioma is a broad category of brain and spinal cord tumors that come from glial cells, brain cells that can develop into tumors. Gliomas can affect the brain function and can be life-threatening depending on their location and rate of growth. They are one of the most common types of primary brain tumors. Common signs and symptoms of gliomas include:
• Nausea or vomiting
• Confusion or a decline in brain function
• Memory loss
• Personality changes or irritability
• Difficulty with balance
• Urinary incontinence
• Vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision or loss of peripheral vision
• Speech difficulties
• Seizures, especially in someone without a history of seizures
HOW IS GLIOMA DIAGNOSED?
The patient’s physician will work with a team of specialists to confirm the diagnosis. A specialist will conduct a neurological examination, followed by CT scans and/or an MRI. These tests will help determine the size, location and type of tumor. The diagnosis can be confirmed by a biopsy.
HOW IS GLIOMA TREATED?
Treatment for glioma depends on the type, size, grade and location of the tumor, as well as the age, overall health and preferences. Treatment options include:
• Observation – for small tumors and tumors located in areas that are not candidates for surgery (brainstem) may be observed and may never grow.
• Surgery – treatment of choice in most cases. Complete removal can be curative.
• Radiation – reserved for tumors that are unable to be surgically removed, residual tumor after surgery, or recurrent tumor.
• Chemotherapy – not typically used except for recurrent or some high-risk tumors.
• Supportive therapy to improve symptoms and neurologic function include corticosteroids to reduce swelling in the brain caused by the tumor and anticonvulsants to control or prevent seizures.
• Clinical trials, performed to see if new cancer therapies are effective and safe, are another option.
DID YOU KNOW?
Radiation therapy usually follows after the surgery.