An oligodendroglioma is a type of brain tumor which arises from oligodendrocytes, cells which make up part of the supportive tissue of the brain. These tumors are most commonly seen in the cerebrum, and the average age of patients at diagnosis is 35. The prognosis for patients with this cancer varies, depending on the type of cancer the patient has, and when the diagnosis happens. Life expectancy with oligodendroglioma can range from three to 10 years, and of course there are patients who are outliers, defying expectations.
Patients with this type of cancer experience symptoms like seizures, difficulty balancing, and nausea. In a medical imaging study such as an MRI or CT scan, the cancer can be seen in the brain, and it may have small flecks as a result of the calcium deposits which can form inside an oligodendroglioma. Low grade tumors, also known as Grade I tumors, tend to have very clear margins, and grow slowly. High grade tumors, known as anaplastic oligodendrogliomas or Grade II tumors, grow more quickly and aggressively.
There are a number of treatment options for oligodendroglioma. Surgery is often recommended to excise the tumor, especially if the margins appear to be clear, which would allow for complete removal of the cancerous tissue. Radiation and chemotherapy can also be used to shrink the tumor. Patients who experience neurological impairment may also find physical therapy sessions beneficial.
When a patient is diagnosed with oligodendroglioma, a neurologist may want to perform a full workup to determine whether or not the cancer has damaged key areas of the brain, and to establish a baseline which can be referred to during treatment. Patients often experience lows and highs during treatment as their neurological function changes, and it can be good to know where the patient was at the beginning.
A patient with a diagnosis of anaplastic oligodendroglioma has a life expectancy which is usually less than eight years, and can be less than three years. Slower growing Grade I tumors have a life expectancy of around 10 years. Doctors can provide more specific information about particular cases, on the basis of the patient's general health, age, and numerous other factors which can have an impact on life expectancy. Studies also seem to suggest that a patient's attitude can sometimes have an impact on the prognosis; patients who are willing to fight may live longer, although this is not always the case.