Other Gliomas

These tumors originate within star-shaped brain cells called astrocytes. These cells form the brain’s supportive structure. Astrocytomas can develop throughout the brain, and, less commonly, in the spinal cord.

There are four grades of astrocytomas.

Grade I – Pilocytic Astrocytoma: Slow growing and unlikely to be spread.

Grade II – Diffuse Astrocytoma: Can be difficult to remove due to undefined edges. Slow growing but can grow back post surgical removal as a higher grade.

Grade III – Anaplastic Astrocytoma: Fast growing and malignant. Often recurring as a higher grade post surgery.

Grade IVGlioblastoma: Also known as Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). These tumours are fast growing and malignant. They may be primary tumours or secondary, having started as a lower grade. Professor David Walker has done a lot of research into the treatment of GBMs and has had some excellent results.

Ependymomas make up less than 2% of all brain tumors and less than 10% of all brain tumors in children. These tumors come from the ependymal cells and because they do not spread into the normal brain tissue, some ependymomas can be cured by surgery. They rarely spread outside the brain. But they do have a high risk of local recurrence and thus are considered malignant.

Oligodendrogliomas are tumors that spread in a similar manner to astrocytomas. Some of these tumors may be slow growing but still spread into nearby tissue. Sometimes they can be cured. A higher grade anaplastic oligodendroglioma grows and spreads more quickly and usually can’t be cured.

A brainstem glioma is a cancerous glioma tumor in the brainstem. Brainstem gliomas start in the brain or spinal cord tissue and typically spread throughout the nervous system. Around 75% are diagnosed in children and young adults under the age of twenty, but have been known to affect older adults as well.

An optic nerve glioma (also called an optic pathway glioma) is a slow-growing brain tumor that arises in or around the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. As the tumor progresses, it presses on the optic nerve, causing a child’s vision to worsen. Blindness can occur, but only in about 5 percent of cases.