Cranial Conditions

Gliomas

Gliomas

Glioma: tumor in brain’s supportive cells. Some symptoms: persistent headaches, vision and/or memory problems.

What are Gliomas?

Gliomas refer to brain tumors originating from neuroglial cells, the supportive cells of the brain. They are the primary cells susceptible to tumor formation in the brain.

The risk of glioma development increases with age, particularly between 75 and 84 years old, though low-grade gliomas can also occur in children, slightly favoring males.

There are four distinct types of Gliomas:

  • Astrocytomas, which affect star-shaped cells supporting brain and spinal cord tissues.
  • Ependymomas, impacting cells lining the cavities of the central nervous system and forming ventricle walls.
  • Oligodendrogliomas, affecting cells coating axons in the central nervous system.
  • Mixed gliomas.

Causes of Gliomas

The precise causes of gliomas remain unclear, though genetic disorders are suspected culprits. Exposure to brain radiation stands as the sole significant risk factor. Lifestyle elements such as smoking, drinking, or cell phone usage are not regarded as risk factors.

Symptoms of Gliomas

Symptoms vary based on tumor location, often resembling those of other brain tumors. Common symptoms include persistent headaches (experienced by nearly half of patients), double or blurred vision, vomiting unrelated to migraines, loss of appetite, muscle control loss, changes in mood or personality, cognitive alterations, memory loss, seizures, and speech difficulties. These symptoms may fluctuate or worsen as the glioma progresses.

Diagnosis of Gliomas

Upon suspicion of glioma presence, various advanced diagnostic methods are employed, including computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) may analyze tumor chemical profiles, aiding lesion characterization. Positron emission tomography (PET scans) help detect recurrent brain tumors. If imaging suggests a brain tumor, biopsy confirms glioma diagnosis.

Treatment Options

Treatment depends on tumor location and severity. A comprehensive approach may encompass surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, used individually or combined.

  • Surgery entails cell removal, often performed soon after diagnosis. As complete removal is challenging due to glioma’s infiltrative nature, surgery is supplemented with other modalities.
  • Radiation aims to halt or slow affected cell growth using energy beams, typically administered over six weeks, starting 2 to 4 weeks post-surgery.
  • Chemotherapy employs toxic drugs to kill glioma-affected cells, typically administered in cycles.

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