Oligodendroglioma is a rare tumor that begins in oligodendrocytes, one of the types of cells that make up the supportive, or glial, tissue of the brain. They can be classified as low grade (grade II) or high grade (grade III) which refers to the how abnormal the tumor cells appear and suggests how fast the tumor may grow or spread. Type III is more aggressive than type II. This type of tumor can be found anywhere in the brain but are most commonly found in the frontal or temporal lobes (front or side of the brain). Symptoms vary depending on the size and location of the tumor but may include headaches, seizures, personality changes, one-sided weakness, and difficulty with short-term memory. Vision problems have also been reported due to added pressure on the brain. Tumors located in the temporal lobes often do not show symptoms for a long time. In general, these types of tumors are considered slow-growing so symptoms may not arise long after it begins to grow.
The cause of oligodendroglioma is not fully known, but both genetics and exposure to radiation are potential links to the development of the tumor. The majority of these tumors do no develop until mid-life, around 40 to 50 years old. Diagnosis may be made through a CT or MRI scan, a biopsy, or a combination of these methods. Treatment varies depending on the type, size, and placement of the tumor, but may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, steroids, or other medications. Talk to your doctor if you think you or your child may have oligodendroglioma.