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What are oligodenrogliomas?

Oligodendrogliomas are low-grade gliomas, a type of brain tumor, that arise from a type of cell called an oligodendrocyte. Oligodendrocytes are a type of glial cell that makes up the supportive network for nerves of the brain and spinal cord. Oligodendrogliomas occur mostly in the frontal lobe, the section of the brain that influences personality and reasoning, but they can occur anywhere in the brain or along the spinal cord. Certain genetic syndromes, such as neurofibromatosis 1 and tuberous sclerosis, increase the risk for developing brain tumors, including oligodendrogliomas. However, most of these tumors develop spontaneously for no known reason.

How we care for oligodenrogliomas

Children and adolescents with oligodendroglioma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through our Glioma Program, one of the largest and most experienced pediatric glioma programs in the world, and part of the Brain Tumor Center.

Our glioma specialists — a team of neuro-oncologists, surgeons, pathologists and radiation oncologists — focus solely on the care of children diagnosed with gliomas. The Glioma Program also offers families the chance to have their child's tumor molecularly profiled (as long as a biopsy can be taken), which may help identify opportunities for targeted treatment.

Oligodendroglioma | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of 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:

  • headache
  • vomiting
  • fatigue

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.

What causes 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.

Oligodendroglioma | Diagnosis & Treatments

How are oligodendroglioma diagnosed?

It is important to consult a physician for a formal diagnosis. Possible diagnostic procedures for an oligodendroglioma may include:

What are the treatment options for oligodendroglioma?

Your child’s physician will determine a specific course of treatment based on several factors. Some therapies will treat the tumor while others are intended to address complications of the disease or side effects of treatment. These treatments include neurosurgery or radiation therapy

Surgery and radiation therapy may be used alone or in combination. While there can be side effects related to the tumor itself or its treatment, knowing what these side effects are can help and, in some cases, prevent these symptoms from occurring.

Oligodendroglioma | Programs & Services