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Oligodendroglioma

  • An oligodendroglioma is a low-grade (relatively benign) tumor arising from a type of cell of the central nervous system known as an oligodendrocyte.

    • Oligodendrocytes make up a supportive network for the nerves of the brain and spinal column.
    • Oligodendrogliomas are quite rare, accounting for only about 2 percent of all pediatric brain tumors.
    • They occur most commonly in the frontal lobe (the section of the brain that influences personality and reasoning), but may occur anywhere along the brain and spinal cord.

    As you read further, you will find general information about oligodendrogliomas. If you would like to view summary information about brain tumors first, see the overview on brain tumors.

    How Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center approachesoligodendrogliomas

    We hold a weekly brain tumor clinic for newly diagnosed patients currently receiving treatment. Each time you come for an appointment, you meet with every specialist on your child’s team, from your pediatric neuro-oncologist, neurologist, and neurosurgeon, to your pediatric endocrinologist, psycho-oncologist and School liaison.

    Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center’s Pediatric Brain Tumor Program offers your child the following services.

    • Access to high-tech resources, like the intra-operative MRI, which allows our pediatric neurosurgeons to visualize the tumor as they operate with MRI scans. This means they can remove as much of the tumor as possible, and sometimes eliminate additional surgeries.

    • Expert neuropathological review, using advanced molecular diagnostic testing, to identify your child’s exact type of tumor. This information helps predict which treatments are more likely to work.

    • Access to unique Phase I clinical trials, from our own investigators, the Children’s Oncology Group and the Pediatric Oncology Experimental Therapeutics Investigators Consortium. Studies offer treatment options beyond standard therapy.

    • Ongoing care from pediatric neurologists familiar with the early symptoms and side effects of brain tumors and their treatments.

    Access to one of the nation’s few dedicated pediatric brain tumor survivorship programs. This weekly clinic offers ongoing care to manage late effects caused by your child’s tumor or the treatment they received.

    Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center 

    44 Binney Street, 3rd Floor
    Boston MA 02115 

    888-PEDI-ONC 

  • What causes an oligodendroglioma?

    The vast majority of children with oligodendrogliomas develop them spontaneously, and there is no identifiable cause. However, if your child has certain genetic syndromes, including neurofibromatosis type I and tuberous sclerosis, he may be at a higher risk of developing certain kinds of tumors, including oligodendrogliomas.

    What are the symptoms of an oligodendroglioma?

    Due to the relatively slow growth rate of oligodendrogliomas, your child may have been having symptoms for many months by the time he sees the doctor, although symptoms can come on rapidly, too. While each child may experience symptoms differently, the most common ones are caused by increased pressure in the brain and include:

    Your child might also experience seizures and hemiparesis (weakness on one side of his body).

    The symptoms of an oligodendroglioma may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

  • How is an oligodendroglioma diagnosed?

    Diagnostic procedures for an oligodendroglioma may include:

    • physical examination - Your child may demonstrate evidence of increased pressure in the brain.
    • computerized tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan) - a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays. For an oligodendroglioma, a CT scan of the brain is usually done.
    • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body. For an oligodendroglioma, MRIs of the brain and spine are usually done.
    • electroencephalogram (EEG) - if your child is experiencing seizures, this procedure records his brain's continuous, electrical activity by means of electrodes attached to the scalp, and helps identify and localize seizure activity to a particular section of the brain.
    • biopsy -a tissue sample from the tumor taken through a needle during a simple surgical procedure to confirm the diagnosis
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