Oligodendroglioma in Children
brain and the spinal cord make up the central nervous system (CNS). A tumor is an
abnormal growth of tissue. An oligodendroglioma is a type of CNS tumor called a glioma.
These tumors start in the glial cells, which support other brain cells. There are
types of gliomas.
Oligodendroglioma is a very rare tumor that starts in cells called oligodendrocytes.
These are the cells that help form the fatty covering (called myelin) of nerve cells.
They can start anywhere in the brain or spinal cord.
more common in adults than in children
start out growing slowly (low-grade) but tend to change over time and then grow
- Are often there for many years before they're diagnosed
grow into the brain tissue, which makes them hard to remove with surgery
- May be
mixed with other types of cells that also support the brain
spread beyond the CNS to other parts of the body
Researchers don't know what causes
brain tumors. Changes (mutations) in the genes (DNA) likely cause normal cells to
into cancer. These may be passed on from parents to children (inherited). Or they
happen without a known reason.
Symptoms of brain tumors depend on their size and where they are in the CNS. For
instance, if a tumor starts in the part of the brain that controls
speech, your child's speech may be affected.
Symptoms of an oligodendroglioma may include:
(this is the most common symptom)
- Headaches, mostly when first waking up
- Trouble with thinking, memory, or concentration
- Nausea and vomiting
- Problems with vision or speech
- Weakness or numbness, often just on 1 side of the face or body
The symptoms of oligodendroglioma can be like other health conditions. Make sure your
child sees a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's health history and symptoms.
physical exam with a neurological exam will be done. The neuro exam tests reflexes,
muscle strength, eye and mouth movement, and coordination. Your child's healthcare
provider may refer your child to a pediatric cancer specialist (oncologist). Some
tests that might be needed include:
CT scan. A CT scan
uses a series of X-rays and a computer to make detailed pictures of the inside of
body. Your child may drink a contrast dye or it may be put into a vein. The dye helps
show more details.
MRI. An MRI
uses large magnets, radio waves, and a computer to make detailed pictures of the
inside of your child's body. Contrast dye may be put into your child's vein to help
get clear pictures.
Biopsy. During this
test, tumor cells are taken out and sent to a lab for testing. A biopsy is done to
find out the type of tumor and how fast it's likely to grow. It may be done during
of diagnosing oligodendroglioma and deciding on treatment is learning more about the
tumor. This process is called
describes how much the cancer cells look like normal cells. Most tumors are graded
scale of I (1) to IV (4). Oligodendroglioma are grouped as either grade II (2) or
(3).Grade II means that the cancer cells look a lot like normal cells and are likely
grow slowly. Grade III means that the cancer cells look very different and are fast
growing. Grade III tumors are also called anaplastic oligodendrogliomas. Talk with
child's healthcare provider about the grade of your child's tumor and what it means.
your child has been diagnosed with a brain tumor and time allows, you may want your
child to see a different oncologist to get a second opinion. This may help you better
understand the treatment options and feel good about the treatment choices you make.
important for your child to be treated at a center that specializes in treating cancer
in children. Most children are treated in a clinical trial. These are studies that
compare the best treatments available now with treatments that are thought to be even
better. Your child's healthcare provider may talk to you about this option.
Treatment may include 1 or more of the below:
treatment removes part or all of the tumor. More surgery may be needed over time,
the tumor grows back. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy might be given after
Chemotherapy. These are strong medicines that kill cancer cells. One or more chemo medicines
may be given at the same time.
Radiation therapy. These are high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation. They're aimed at the
cancer cells to kill them and stop them from growing.
Clinical trials. A
clinical trial is a way to test new treatments for cancer. Ask your child's
healthcare provider if there are any treatments being tested that may work well for
your child. Many new treatments are only available in clinical trials.
Treatment can cause side effects. Medicines and other treatments can be used for
pain, fever, infection, and nausea and vomiting. Managing side effects is an
important part of cancer care.
treatments may include:
Steroids. These medicines help prevent or reduce swelling in the
These help to prevent or control seizures.
Shunt placement. A
shunt is a small plastic tube. It’s put into the skull to drain any fluid that has
built up in or around the brain.
With any cancer, how well a child is expected to recover (prognosis) varies. Keep
medical treatment right away is important for the best outcomes. Cancer that has
spread in the CNS is harder to treat.
- Ongoing follow-up care during and after treatment is needed.
with your child's healthcare provider about any concerns you have or problems you
notice. Your child's treatment team wants to know as much as they can about how your
child is doing.
child may have short- and long-term problems from the tumor or from treatment. These
include things like:
to the brain or nervous system that causes problems with coordination, muscle
strength, speech, hearing, or eyesight
after surgery, such as infection, bleeding, and problems with general anesthesia (the
medicines used during surgery)
- Infection and bleeding from chemotherapy
- Delayed growth and development
- Learning problems
- Problems with reproduction (infertility)
of the cancer (recurrence)
- Increased risk for other cancers later in life
your child's healthcare provider about what you should watch for and what can be done
help prevent problems.
child with a brain tumor needs special care for the rest of their life. Your child
be seen by oncologists and other healthcare providers to treat any late effects of
treatment and watch for symptoms of the tumor returning. Your child will be checked
imaging tests and other tests. Your child may also see other healthcare providers
problems caused by the tumor or treatment. For instance, your child may see an eye
provider (ophthalmologist) for vision problems.
child may need therapy to help with movement and muscle strength. Your child may see
physical and occupational therapists. If your child's speech is affected, your child
need help from a speech therapist. Your child may also need the help of other therapists
for learning or emotional problems.
can help your child manage their treatment in many ways. For instance:
- Your child may have trouble eating. A dietitian may be able to help.
child may be very tired. They will need to balance rest and activity. Encourage your
child to get some exercise. This is good for overall health. And it may help to
emotional support for your child. Find a counselor, or a child support group can
sure your child goes to all follow-up appointments.
When to Call a Healthcare Provider
Your child's healthcare provider will talk with you about when to
call. You may be told to call if your child has any of the below:
- New symptoms or symptoms that get worse
- Signs of an infection, such as a fever or chills
- Side effects of treatment that affect your child's daily
function or don’t get better with treatment
Ask your child's healthcare provider what signs to watch for and when
to call. Know how to get help after office hours and on weekends and holidays.
- Oligodendroglioma is a type of brain tumor. It’s a rare tumor that grows in the cells
that make up the fatty covering of nerve cells.
tumors are rare in children.
- Symptoms may include seizures, headaches, trouble with thinking, memory, or concentration,
and nausea and vomiting.
- Oligodendrogliomas may be diagnosed with MRI, CT scan, or both.
- Treatment is usually surgery. It may be followed by chemotherapy, radiation therapy,
or both. Other treatments may be needed to control symptoms and side effects.
- Ongoing care is important.
the cancer is so rare, it's important for your child to be treated at a center that
specializes in the disease.
to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
- Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.
- Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
- At the
visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis and any new medicines, treatments, or
tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your
- Know why
a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know
what the side effects are.
- Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.
- Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
- Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
- If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose
for that visit.
how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if
you have questions or need advice.