A ganglioglioma is a very rare type of tumor that most commonly occurs in children or young adults. It might also be called a gangliocytoma or ganglioneruoma. This type of tumor stems from groups of nerve cells called ganglia and most often occurs in the brain but also can occur in the spine. When treated, people who have a ganglioglioma have a survival rate of 80 percent or more.
Although some researchers believe that people who have certain genetic disorders might be more likely to develop a ganglioglioma, there is no known cause of the condition. A person might have a ganglioglioma for years before the tumor is detected. Symptoms might include seizures, headaches, cranial pressure, lethargy, vomiting, nausea and impaired movement on one side of the body. A ganglioglioma can be detected through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a computed tomography (CAT) scan, an electroencephalogram or a combination of the three.
After the diagnosis is confirmed through a biopsy, treatment is usually focused on completely removing the tumor, which leads patients to a survival rate of nearly 100 percent. These types of tumors typically are small, benign and slow-growing, which allows for complete removal in some cases. If a surgeon cannot completely remove the tumor, the patient might need radiation therapy. A ganglioglioma often does not grow back when completely removed, but a person who has been treated for this type of tumor would likely undergo regular MRIs to ensure that no traces are present.
People who have had surgery to remove the ganglioglioma are often prescribed steroids to manage the swelling of the brain and tissues after the procedure. After the patient has recovered from the surgery, he or she might often experience relief from any pressure, headaches, seizures or loss of movement previously caused by the tumor. If the tumor grows back after being removed or if any remaining portions of the tumor increase in size, a doctor might prescribe radiation therapy at the site of the tumor. Patients who must receive radiation therapy might experience tissue swelling, headaches and reduced coordination as side effects.