Low-grade gliomas are tumors that develop from the glial cells present in the brain and spinal cord. The following HealthHearty article will help you understand more about this type of tumor.
Low-grade gliomas are a type of tumors that originate from glial cells called astrocytes. They are more commonly observed in children, and affect the brain and/or spinal cord.
The electrical impulses initiated in the brain are carried by the neurons. The glial cells support and nourish these neurons. When such glial cells start growing abnormally and uncontrollably, it results in glioma. Gliomas are categorized into low-grade (grade 1 and 2) and high-grade tumors, according to the number of abnormal cells seen under a microscope.
Low-grade gliomas are sub divided on the basis of their appearance under a microscope. The commonly seen types are as follows:
Fibrillary astrocytoma or diffuse astrocytomas are the most commonly seen tumors of this kind, and affect people who are in their late 30s.
The pilocytic astrocytomas progress very slowly, and affect people who are under 25 years of age.
These are slow-growing tumors and it is very important to distinguish oligodendrogliomas from pilocytic astrocytomas.
The gangliogliomas have characteristics similar to gliomas, as well as tumors of the neurons.
These are a mixture of different subtypes like diffuse astrocytomas and oligodendroglioma.
Subependymal Giant Cell Astrocytoma
This is a tumor affecting people with tuberous sclerosis disease.
Optic Nerve Glioma
These are observed in patients with neurofibromatosis. They affect the nerves present in the tissues of the eye.
In children, they represent over 40% of all the spinal cord and brain tumors. Children suffering from tuberous sclerosis show a high risk of developing gliomas. In most children, the tumors originate spontaneously without any identifiable cause.
Primary low-grade gliomas in adults, are observed in people who have a family history of neurofibromatosis, tuberous sclerosis or eye tumors. In some cases, it may be an outcome of radiation therapy for treatment of other tumors.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms may vary with each individual as well as the precise site of the tumor. However, some of the common ones include:
- Decline in school work (in case of children)
- Abnormal gait
- Loss of vision
- Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- Premature puberty (in children)
- Memory problems
- Problem while talking
The treatment is decided after a careful analysis of the patient’s age, other preexisting conditions, and medical history. Surgical removal of the tumor may be advised to ensure normal neurological functions. Other options include chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy to kill the tumorous cells, and limit their growth. The doctor may advise anticonvulsant medication to control seizures, if required. Inflammation in the brain may be kept under control with help of steroids.
One needs to seek medical help if they are having vision problems, frequent headaches, and have a family history of tuberous sclerosis. There are many support groups dedicated to patients with low-grade gliomas and brain tumors. Such support groups help them to overcome their fears, and face their problems with a positive approach, as well as aid in resolving their difficulties concerning diagnosis and treatment.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.