Glioma, also known as a Brain Tumor, refers to a tumor that develops in the brain or spinal cord. A Glioma originates from glial cells that are present in the brain and spinal cord. Most of the central nervous system tumors are Gliomas.
Glioma or a Brain Tumor is a medical emergency condition.
Three types of glial cells produce these tumors. Classification of Glioma is made depending upon the type of glial cell present in the tumor and the genetic feature of the tumor. Types of Glioma include:
The exact cause of Glioma is not clear. However, genetic disorders such as neurofibromatosis or tuberous sclerosis can cause Gliomas. Radiation exposure can also play a vital role in the development of Glioma. Other environmental factors like food and exposure to toxic chemicals can cause Glioma.
Factors that increase the probability of developing Glioma include:
Glioma can develop either in the brain or spinal cord. The function of the brain is affected depending upon the type and location of Glioma in the brain. Symptoms also vary depending upon tumor size, location, and how rapidly it grows.
If Glioma affects the spinal cord symptoms include:
Investigation tests to diagnose Glioma include:
After diagnosing Glioma, the below tests are performed:
All these tests are essential to determine the treatment plan.
Diagnosis of Glioma is made by reviewing the signs and symptoms and considering the results of the investigation tests.
Glioma is classified as low-grade Glioma and high-grade Glioma. Low-grade Glioma grows slowly and in some cases can be removed with surgery whereas high-grade Glioma is fast-growing, aggressive, and can spread easily.
Astrocytoma type of Glioma is classified into the following:
Ependymoma type of Glioma is classified as:
OligodendroGlioma is classified into:
Treatment depends on the type, size, location, grade of the tumor, and also age and general health condition of an individual.
Medical treatment includes drugs that are prescribed to reduce signs and symptoms:
In the majority of the cases, surgery is performed in the treatment of Glioma. Surgical treatment of the Glioma depends upon the location of the tumor in the brain or spinal cord. The tumor can be removed completely or partially depending on its location. If the tumor is located in a region where complete resection is possible, then it is surgically excised. If the tumor is located near sensitive areas in the brain where resection would be risky and there would be possible damage to surrounding structures, partial resection of the tumor is done. The tumor is removed as much as possible.
Removing a part of the Glioma also decreases the severity of the symptoms. Surgical resection of Glioma is done with the help of intraoperative MRI and lasers. The neurosurgeon tries to protect as much a healthy brain as possible. Awake brain surgery is also performed in the treatment of Glioma. In this type of surgical procedure, the patient is asked to perform certain tasks during operation to ensure the area of the brain controlling that function is not damaged.
Radiation therapy is essential in treating Glioma. It is usually followed by surgical treatment. Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment in which high-energy beams are focused to kill the cancer cells. Radiation therapy for Glioma is done using external beam radiation. In external beam radiation therapy, radiations are applied only to the tumor or to the entire brain. High energy beams such as x-rays or protons are focused on the tumor to destroy the cancer cells.
Radiosurgery or stereotactic radiation therapy is a type of surgery where a selected area of tissue is destructed using radiation. In radiosurgery, multiple beams of radiations are focused on the Glioma. Each ray may not contain a high dose of radiation but as it reaches the Brain Tumor it releases a high dose of radiation. There are different types of technologies used in the treatment of Glioma including the Gamma Knife technique or linear accelerator (LINAC).
Proton beam therapy or proton therapy is a type of radiation therapy. This is also used in the treatment of Glioma. In this therapy, high targeted doses of radiations are focused on the tumor minimizing exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue. Protons cause less damage to the surrounding structures than x-rays.
After undergoing the treatment of a Glioma, a rehabilitation program is initiated. Rehabilitation is an important part of recovery after the treatment of Glioma. A Brain Tumor affects many functions like vision, speech, thinking, and motor skills. Treatment of a Brain Tumor also makes the body weak. So rehabilitation is of utmost importance to gain back strength and to resume normal activities of life.
The rehabilitation program for Glioma includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. The rehabilitation program also improves an individual’s memory and thinking after recovering from a Brain Tumor. Even after the treatment of Glioma, yearly follow-up is required with MRI scans.
Some of the lifestyle modifications include:
The following are the possible complications of a Glioma:
The overall prognosis of Glioma is poor. In the majority of the cases, the survival rate is 5 years after the treatment. However, it varies depending on several factors like the type of tumor, its location, the extent of its spread, age, and general health condition of the individual.
Consultation is recommended after noticing the signs and symptoms of Glioma.
Chemotherapy and radiation treatments of Glioma can be performed in outpatient settings; however, surgical removal of a Glioma requires hospitalization. The length of the hospital stay depends upon the intensity of the surgery as well as the general health condition of an individual.