What is a Glioma?

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What is a Glioma?
Glioma is a tumor or abnormal growth involving the glial cells of the brain and/or spinal cord. Glial cells serve as protection and support to the neurons found in the brain. When there are abnormalities in these cells, they may form tumors called gliomas. These tumors usually occur in the brain but may also affect the spinal cord.

Gliomas are considered primary tumors of the brain which means that the abnormal growth originates on the brain itself. Based on records from the American Brain Tumor Association, about 12.8 persons acquire this type of tumor for every 100,000 persons. Gliomas are also often diagnosed between two age groups, the 3-12 age group and the 40-70 age group.

There are three basic classifications of gliomas. The first classification is based on the cell type. When ependymal cells are the ones affected, the glioma is called ependymoma. When the tumor growth involves the astrocytes, they are called astrocytomas. For oligodendrocytes, they are called oligodendrogliomas. There are also gliomas that affect different types of glial cells and this type is called oligoastrocytomas. Another classification is through the tumor grade. Low-grade gliomas refer to well-differentiated gliomas which have better prognosis. High-grade gliomas meanwhile are anaplastic and malignant in nature. The last classification depends on the location or area affected by the tumor. Supratentorial gliomas occur above the tentorium while infratentorial gliomas occur below the tentorium. Pontine gliomas involve the pons which is part of the brainstem.

Patients with gliomas usually present with nausea, headaches, seizures, pain, numbness in some parts of the bodies, and some damage to the cranial nerves. The abnormal tumor cells may also spread to the spinal cord via the cerebrospinal fluid. There is no known cause for this type of tumor. But once diagnosed, patients are advised to coordinate with their doctors immediately to have better treatment options.

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