What is Glioma Tumor?
Glioma is a kind of tumor which develops in the spinal cord and brain. Gliomas begin in the glial cells, which surround the nerve cells and assist in their functioning. There are three types of glial cells which can produce tumors and Gliomas are basically classified according to the kind of glial cells involved in the tumor. The types of glioma include Astrocytomas, Ependymomas and Oligodendrogliomas. Gliomas are one of the most common forms of primary brain tumors. They can affect the brain function and also be life-threatening depending on their location and growth rate. Conventional treatments like radiation therapy, targeted therapy, surgery etc. have proven useful in treating Gliomas.
What are the Causes of Glioma Tumor?
Although the exact cause of Glioma tumor is still unknown, there are some factors which can increase the risk of these tumors. The risk of Glioma tumor increases with age. Glioma tumor most commonly occurs in adults within the age group of 60 to 80 years. However, certain types of gliomas, like pilocytic astrocytomas and ependymomas, most often occur in children and teenagers. Exposure to a kind of radiation called ionizing radiation increases the risk of Glioma tumors. Radiation therapy used to treat cancer is an example of ionizing radiation. The risk of developing Glioma tumor doubles for individuals with a family history of Glioma.
What are the Symptoms of Glioma Tumor?
The symptoms of Glioma tumor differ by the tumor type, location, size and rate of growth. The common symptoms of gliomas are nausea and vomiting, headache, urinary incontinence, balance problem, speech difficulties, irritability, confusion, decline in brain functioning, personality changes, memory loss, blurry or doubled vision and even seizures. When experiencing these persistent signs and symptoms of Glioma tumor, the patients are advised to consult a doctor immediately.
Classification & Life Expectancy of Glioma Tumor
Gliomas are classified by subtypes and by a numerical grading system. The grade of a Glioma tumor implies how the cancer cells appear under a microscope. While Grade I Glioma tumors grow slowly and can generally be removed completely by surgery, grade IV Glioma tumors grow rapidly and are difficult to treat. In case of patients with Grade IV glioblastoma, the average survival time is around a year. However, with conventional treatment, few patients with Grade IV Glioma tumor have survived beyond 3 years. The low-grade tumors usually grow slowly, but if not treated promptly, they transform into high-grade tumors in time.
How can Glioma Tumor be Diagnosed?
The doctor needs to perform imaging tests like CT scan, PET scan and MRI scan of the brain and spinal cord to diagnose a Glioma tumor. A neurological exam may also need to be conducted to check the patient’s hearing, vision, coordination, balance, reflexes and strength. A biopsy may also be conducted as a separate procedure or may be done at the time when the tumor is removed through surgery to confirm the diagnosis of Glioma Tumor.
Treatment & Prognosis of Glioma Tumor
The treatment and prognosis of Glioma tumor depends on the type of Glioma one has. The patient’s physical condition and age also play a vital role in determining the right treatment for Glioma tumor. For malignant gliomas, the treatment options are considered based on the location of the tumor, type of glioma and grade of malignancy. Generally, Glioma tumor treatment options include radiation therapy, surgery, targeted therapy, chemotherapy and experimental clinical trials. Supportive therapy, in which corticosteroids are administered, prove useful in relieving symptoms, improving neurologic function and reducing swelling caused by the tumor. Also anticonvulsants are given to the patients to control or prevent seizures occurring as a result of Glioma tumor.
Patients experiencing problems in their motor skills may need to undergo rehabilitation treatments like speech therapy, physical therapy and occupation therapy. Complementary treatments like acupuncture, meditation, yoga, music therapy, hypnosis, relaxation therapy, etc. can also help Glioma tumor patients to cope with their condition.
When experiencing the symptoms of Glioma tumor, one must seek medical help immediately. The faster the problem is diagnosed and treated, the better is the prognosis. Diagnosis of glioma tumor can be frightening and overwhelming for anyone. But, the patients should learn about their condition to make the right decision about their care. They should talk to their family and friends and keep them close for support.