About

Glioma


About Glioma

Gliomas are the most common kind of brain tumors in both children and adults. Approximately 25% of all childhood cancers are gliomas, and most of these tumors are highly treatable and curable. For example, a pilocytic astrocytoma – the most common kind of glioma, has a cure rate that is higher than 90%.


A glioma is a type of brain or spinal cord tumor that begins in glial cells, supportive cells that surround the neurons in your brain, nourishing and insulating them. Depending on its location and growth rate, a glioma can affect brain function and be life-threatening.

Most of the time, the cause of childhood glioma is unknown. Sometimes children who have received treatment for other types of cancer can develop a glioma as a secondary cancer. In addition, there are several genetic mutations or syndromes that are associated with a higher risk of developing a glioma. These syndromes include:

  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome
  • Turcot syndrome
  • Neurofibromatosis: in particular, children with neurofibromatosis are at an increased risk for developing optic pathway gliomas
  • Tuberous sclerosis: can lead to a higher chance of developing subependymal giant cell astrocytoma, a kind of low-grade glioma

As a glioma grows, it can push on the healthy brain tissues surrounding it, which affects their function. Because of this, the symptoms of a childhood glioma depend largely on the size and location of the tumor in the brain.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Headache, specifically in the morning and/or made better by vomiting
  • Severe or frequent vomiting with no other gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision, or loss of vision
  • Trouble walking or balancing
  • Clumsiness
  • Seizures
  • Behavioral changes
  • Confusion
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Sleepiness
  • Premature puberty

Gliomas are categorized according to the tumor’s genetic features and the type of glial cell involved in the tumor. These tumors can be low-grade or high-grade, based on criteria set by the World Health Organization (WHO). High-grade tumors appear very unusual when examined under the microscope, and low-grade tumors look different than healthy brain cells, but not as abnormal as high-grade tumor cells. The grade of the tumor is also determined based on how fast it grows.
Types of pediatric gliomas include:

  • Pilocytic astrocytoma – the most common type of low-grade glioma, which often occurs in the cerebellum. It is usually slow-growing and not diagnosed until it is large.
  • Anaplastic astrocytoma – a high-grade tumor in which the cells do not have the structure of normal brain glioma cells. It grows relatively quickly and does not usually spread to other parts of the central nervous system.
  • Glioblastoma multiforme – these high-grade tumors can occur anywhere in the brain or spinal cord. This type of tumor is usually aggressive, growing quickly and sometimes spreading from the brain to other areas of the central nervous system.
  • Diffuse midline glioma, H3 K27M-mutant – these high-grade tumors, which are found in the brainstem, account for 10% of all pediatric brain tumors.
  • Optic pathway glioma – a low-grade tumor that occurs in the optic nerve.
  • Tectal glioma – a low-grade tumor that occurs near the brainstem.
  • Oligodendroglioma – a very rare type of low-grade glioma.
  • Ganglioglioma – a low-grade glioma that has some features similar to glial cells and some features that look like neurons.
  • Pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma – a low-grade glioma that typically grows in the temporal lobe of the brain and often includes a cyst as part of the tumor.

What is pediatric glioma?

A glioma is a type of brain or spinal cord tumor that begins in glial cells, supportive cells that surround the neurons in your brain, nourishing and insulating them. Depending on its location and growth rate, a glioma can affect brain function and be life-threatening.

 

What are the risk factors of pediatric glioma?

Most of the time, the cause of childhood glioma is unknown. Sometimes children who have received treatment for other types of cancer can develop a glioma as a secondary cancer. In addition, there are several genetic mutations or syndromes that are associated with a higher risk of developing a glioma. These syndromes include:

  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome
  • Turcot syndrome
  • Neurofibromatosis: in particular, children with neurofibromatosis are at an increased risk for developing optic pathway gliomas
  • Tuberous sclerosis: can lead to a higher chance of developing subependymal giant cell astrocytoma, a kind of low-grade glioma

 

What are the symptoms of pediatric glioma?

As a glioma grows, it can push on the healthy brain tissues surrounding it, which affects their function. Because of this, the symptoms of a childhood glioma depend largely on the size and location of the tumor in the brain.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Headache, specifically in the morning and/or made better by vomiting
  • Severe or frequent vomiting with no other gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision, or loss of vision
  • Trouble walking or balancing
  • Clumsiness
  • Seizures
  • Behavioral changes
  • Confusion
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Sleepiness
  • Premature puberty

 

What are the types of pediatric gliomas?

Gliomas are categorized according to the tumor’s genetic features and the type of glial cell involved in the tumor. These tumors can be low-grade or high-grade, based on criteria set by the World Health Organization (WHO). High-grade tumors appear very unusual when examined under the microscope, and low-grade tumors look different than healthy brain cells, but not as abnormal as high-grade tumor cells. The grade of the tumor is also determined based on how fast it grows.

Types of pediatric gliomas include:

  • Pilocytic astrocytoma – the most common type of low-grade glioma, which often occurs in the cerebellum. It is usually slow-growing and not diagnosed until it is large.
  • Anaplastic astrocytoma – a high-grade tumor in which the cells do not have the structure of normal brain glioma cells. It grows relatively quickly and does not usually spread to other parts of the central nervous system.
  • Glioblastoma multiforme – these high-grade tumors can occur anywhere in the brain or spinal cord. This type of tumor is usually aggressive, growing quickly and sometimes spreading from the brain to other areas of the central nervous system.
  • Diffuse midline glioma, H3 K27M-mutant – these high-grade tumors, which are found in the brainstem, account for 10% of all pediatric brain tumors.
  • Optic pathway glioma – a low-grade tumor that occurs in the optic nerve.
  • Tectal glioma – a low-grade tumor that occurs near the brainstem.
  • Oligodendroglioma – a very rare type of low-grade glioma.
  • Ganglioglioma – a low-grade glioma that has some features similar to glial cells and some features that look like neurons.
  • Pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma – a low-grade glioma that typically grows in the temporal lobe of the brain and often includes a cyst as part of the tumor.

 

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