At Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center, our team of neuro-oncology specialists work together to provide patients with the highest standard of care and treatment. Our center treats over 1,000 patients with brain tumors each year, and we meet each patient’s unique needs using the most advanced expertise and treatments to improve outcomes for our patients. Our center is dedicated to providing the highest-quality care for each step of your treatment through a customized treatment plan that promises the best chance for your recovery.

What is a Glioma?

Gliomas are the most common type of brain tumor, accounting for 80 percent of malignant brain tumors. Gliomas develop in the supportive (glial) tissues of the brain.

Gliomas are a relatively rare form of cancer and they are very dangerous. There are many subtypes of gliomas which can be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). Low-grade gliomas (Grades I and II) grow and spread slowly, and these are more commonly found in young adults and children. High-grade gliomas (Grades III and IV) grow and spread quickly.

The most common type of gliomas are astrocytomas, accounting for roughly half of malignant brain tumors. This type of glioma develops from star-shaped glial cells (astrocytes). Astrocytomas are most commonly found in the cerebrum, the front of the brain that controls muscle movements, sensation, vision, hearing, judgment, reasoning, problem solving, emotions and learning. A subset of astrocytomas, known as glioblastomas, are very aggressive and fast-growing.

Oligodendrogliomas develop from oligodendrocytes, a type of glial cell which normally provides support to nerve fibers in the brain. Oligodendrogliomas are rare and are more common in men. A common symptom of oligodendrogliomas are seizures, but oligodendrogliomas can also cause headaches, weakness, and speech problems.

Oligoastrocytomas are gliomas made up of a mix of abnormal oligodendrocytes and astrocytes.

Ependymomas develop from glial cells called ependymal cells, these cells line the fluid (cerebrospinal fluid - CSF) filled cavities (ventricles) of the brain and the spinal cord. When these tumors grow, they can cause a build up of CSF and pressure inside the skull, causing a condition called hydrocephalus. Ependymomas are rare and most commonly occur in children.

Gangliogliomas are a very rare type of glioma which develops from a mixture of nerve cells and glial cells.

Learn more about gliomas, including other types of gliomas.

Understanding Low Grade Gliomas

In this video neurosurgeon Elizabeth Claus, MD, PhD, shares more information about low-grade gliomas, a malignant brain tumor.

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