Oligodendrogliomas are the third most common glioma, accounting for 2-5% of all primary brain tumours and 5-18% of gliomas. They are more common in adults, particularly in people aged 40-60.
Oligodendrogliomas are divided into two grades:
The treatment of an oligodendroglioma depends on whether it's a grade two or three tumour.
Some grade two oligodendrogliomas grow very slowly and you may be put on watch and wait. which doesn't involve treatment to get rid of the tumour.
Instead, the growth of your tumour will be closely monitored using MRI scans and you may be given treatment to help manage any symptoms that affect your quality of life.
If a grade two oligodendroglioma is large or affecting your quality-of-life, surgery may be performed to remove as much as possible if it is located in an area where it is safe to remove.
If the neurosurgeon manages to remove all of the visible tumour cells, this may be the only treatment you receive and you might then be put on 'watch and wait'.
Many patients with a grade two oligodendroglioma will remain in remission for several years after surgery, with no signs of the tumour growing. However, if the tumour appears to have changed or grown, this is when your doctors will consider additional surgery or starting radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
Because grade-three oligodendrogliomas are larger and faster-growing, watch and wait is less common. Instead, it's common to have surgery quite soon after diagnosis.
Oligodendrogliomas are often 'diffuse', which means they have thread-like tendrils that extend into parts of the brain making it difficult to remove completely.
After surgery, patients with a grade three oligodendroglioma will often receive a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells that weren't able to be removed during surgery.
Our FREE Brain Tumour Information Pack has been designed to help you through this difficult time, to guide you through the healthcare system, answer your questions, and reassure you that you're not alone so that you feel confident when discussing treatment and care options with your medical team.
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