What is an Oligodendroglioma?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2019
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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.


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Post 6

I was diagnosed with an oligodendroglioma grade 3 tumor last year and what a journey it has been. Not sure where the journey is heading, but I do know I am happy to be alive in this moment.

I also know how much of a challenge the body experiences beyond the tumor from undergoing the brain being cut into for a biopsy. The trauma of having the nervous system stimulated and cut into as well as the brain being touched is tough, and I am still feeling side effects from this procedure.

The second hospital I now go to evaluated the same biopsy sample and diagnosed me as a grade 2 not 3, and recommended an entirely different treatment than

the first hospital. The treatment I am currently deciding to take, which has not been given by the hospital system, is ketogenic therapy and CBD, and I will be starting on oxygen therapy. The tumor has not grown at all this past year.

I have been so inspired reading what all of you have written. It's wonderful to have the support and love of others and know that we are all on an incredible journey.

Post 5

The reason I mention this is because, when I was 16 I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary disease. I did not have a menstrual cycle for almost seven years. And without a cycle, you can't exactly conceive a child. Also, I had some memory issues for a while, and at times I still do. I had to quit school because I could not grasp any new information, even with a tutor.

So my tumor was both a blessing and a curse. I didn't complete college. Instead I am a deli associate at Walmart, but I am okay with that, because even though I don't have my career in the medical field, I do have my life. And most of all, I have my husband and my daughter.

Post 4

I was diagnosed with this tumor when I was 23. The only symptoms I had were seizures and headaches. Though I never new I was having the seizures, I was always sleeping when they occurred. My husband took me to the ER, the doctor had a CT scan taken of my brain, but said nothing was detected. My husband mentioned the spots on my brain, the doctor said "that's just a shadow". We didn't question him, we went home. About a week or so later, I was having another seizure in my sleep. This was followed up by a second only three hours later. My husband took me to another ER 60 miles away.

The next morning, Valentine's Day, a

neurologist came to my room. He sat with my husband and I, he told us I had Oligodendroglioma, a tumor on the front left temporal. He said he thought it was benign, but wanted to remove it and do a biopsy. I was calm, I accepted the diagnosis very well. I couldn't be terrified of this condition. I had to be strong for my best friend, my husband. I have no pity on me; why should anyone else?

I was in college at the time to be a surgical technician. I carried a high GPS, and was really looking forward to my family's future. I had my surgery that May and the tumor was benign. I had annual MRI's, and now seven years later I am a happy, healthy 31 year old wife and mother. My husband and I have been married for eight years and our beautiful daughter is six years old.

Post 3

My husband was just diagnosed with this type of brain cancer. I have since been doing research on the disease, and this article has been very informative. Thanks for writing it.

His cancer is Grade I, so thankfully the tumor growth is at a gradual pace. He will soon go through some radiation treatments to stop the growth of the tumor.

Although I am optimistic that he will recover from this situation, I still am a little scared for him. Losing him will be a tremendous loss to our family. We are doing our best to stay positive, but we realize that his time left on earth may be limited.

I certainly hope that the doctors can perform a miracle, and that his cancer will disappear.

Post 2

I definitely believe that if a person has the willpower, then for the most part, they can conquer any disease.

I am a nurse in a hospital were a very accomplished neurosurgeon is an attendee at. She deals with all sorts of brain tumors in her patients and oligondedroglioma is certainly one of them.

For some patients, discovering they have brain cancer is a very traumatic experience. The thought of having brain surgery and possibly chemotherapy is something that they can not handle that well. Instead of forcing their bodies to fight the disease and trusting the surgeons to do their jobs, they give up. I have seen some even sink into a deep depression or go home

to die, refusing help from our well qualified staff.

On the other hand, I have seen plenty of patients take their diagnosis as a just another obstacle life throws at them. The do their best to remain optimistic in the ability of themselves and the hospital staff. These patients are the ones that I have seen have the most success in beating their cancer.

I wish more patients would realize that overcoming a disease first starts with believing that you can recover. If you believe in your ability to fight, then your mind can dictate how your body will behave.

Post 1

One of my coworkers, who happens to be one of my close friends, was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. From what she described about here diagnoses, it seems as if she has oligodendroglioma. She was having trouble keeping her balance. Even walking to the bathroom became a hassle for her. She went to the doctor and after doing an MRI, they found a tumor in her brain.

I think she said that the tumor was in an operable place, so she is scheduled for surgery soon. She is in very high spirits, so I think that if the surgery goes well, she can make a good recovery.

This is her first major health scare, she is only 48 years old. I have no doubt that if she keeps the faith, she can get through this thing.

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