What Is a Glioma?

A glioma is a type of brain tumor that develops in the glial cells, which surround and provide support for the neurons in the central and peripheral nervous systems. A glioma can develop in any part of the brain or spinal cord, and while some of these tumors are benign (noncancerous), most are malignant and have the potential to grow into surrounding tissues.

Types of glioma

Gliomas can be categorized by the specific types of cells that make up the tumor. The primary types of glioma include:

  • Astrocytomas, which develop in the connective tissue cells known as astrocytes. Glioblastomas – another specific type of brain cancer – are a unique subset of astrocytomas.
  • Brain stem gliomas, which develop in the brain stem. These tumors can occur in adults but are more common in children.
  • Ependymomas, which develop in the cells that line the ventricles. These tumors are uncommon and account for just 2 to 3 percent of all primary brain cancers.
  • Oligodendrogliomas, which develop in the supportive tissue cells known as oligodendrocytes. These tumors are also uncommon, and the associated outcomes are often among the most favorable of all brain cancers.
  • Optic pathway gliomas, which develop in the optic nerves. These tumors are usually very slow-growing.

Some gliomas are also considered to be mixed because they consist of several different types of cells. These gliomas are most commonly found in the cerebrum.

Glioma treatment options

Oncologists typically recommend different treatments for different types of glioma. This is because it’s important to consider where in the brain a tumor is located to determine if it can be surgically removed, and also because tumors with certain cellular characteristics respond better to specific chemotherapy drugs.

The experienced neuro-oncologists at Moffitt Cancer Center provide comprehensive treatment for all types and stages of brain cancer, including the various forms of glioma. We also welcome patients who are experiencing brain tumor symptoms but do not yet have an official diagnosis, as well as patients who are seeking a second opinion before making any decisions about their treatment.

No referral is required to request an appointment with an oncologist in Moffitt’s Neuro-Oncology Program; to do so, call 1-888-663-3888 or submit a new patient registration form online.