An Overview on Glioma Brain Cancer
Medical professionals are still unsure about what leads to gliomas. It develops when cells in the brain or spine bring change in their DNA. A cell’s DNA has codes that teach it what it should do.
The changes in the DNA direct the cells to create new cells faster. Since healthy cells would die, the new ones continue to live. This results in a surplus amount of dysfunctional cells. The cells create a mass known as a tumor. The tumor may expand to weigh on surrounding nerves and sections of the brain or spine. This causes cancer symptoms, which may lead to complications.
Types of Brain Cancer Glioma
Glioma is a generic term for a form of brain cancer. But, there are many subtypes of gliomas dependent on the site where the tumor grew.
Astrocytoma arises from glial cells named astrocytes that surround neurons. Astrocytes also support and protect them. They spread through the spine and brain of the patient when blending with healthy tissues. Moreover, this makes astrocytomas harder to take out if they are high-grade. A great majority of gliomas are astrocytomas and can be both high and low-grade.
Optic pathway glioma, or optic glioma, is a form of glioma developing near the optic nerve, optic chiasm, or hypothalamus. The optic nerve is responsible for vision. So, this type of glioma may frequently result in visual issues. This form of glioma has three grades: grade 1, grade 2, and grade 3.
Mixed gliomas are a form of glioma that develops when numerous types of glial cells mix together. These gliomas are of varied forms that differ substantially in terms of their aggressiveness and how they act. This will all be determined by the combination of cells that blended, as well as the grade of the tumor.
As the name suggests, brainstem gliomas appear in the brainstem of the patient. In general, these gliomas develop in the middle of the brain stem, making them harder or impossible to remove with surgical procedures.
This type of glioma is grouped from stage 1 to stage 4 brain stem glioma cancer. Focal brainstem gliomas and diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas are two different types of brainstem gliomas.
Oligodendrogliomas are a form of glioma that forms in oligodendrocytes. They cover and protect neurons. These tumors are very uncommon and originate within the cerebrum. They are slow-growing and do not frequently spread to surrounding brain tissue. These brain tumors most commonly affect people who are in the middle age. These gliomas are grouped as stage 2 or stage 3 glioma brain cancer.
Ependymoma is a glioma that develops in ependymal cells, which line the fluid-filled gaps in the brain’s cavities and the spinal cord center. Ependymomas are divided into stages 1 through 3.
Signs and Symptoms Of Gliomas
In the earliest stage, the symptoms of glioma show up slowly and may not be noticeable. Some gliomas do not show signs and can be diagnosed when you visit a doctor for another reason. The tumor pressing on the brain or spine might cause the following symptoms:
- Speech problems
- Loss of vision
- Weakness in the arms, legs, or face
- Personality changes
Causes of Glioma Brain Cancer
There is no definite cause of glioma brain cancer. The main cause is believed to be associated with a mutation in the DNA of the tumor cells. Still, there are no clear environmental or behavioral risk factors like air pollution or smoking that may cause gliomas.
Gliomas are classified by grade, ranging from grade 1 to grade 4. Grade 1 is the least aggressive, while grade 4 is the most aggressive. Here is a brief about all the glioma brain cancer grades:
Low-Grade Glioma: Grade I and II
Grade I and II are low-grade gliomas. They do not spread speedily and have a normal structure when viewed through a microscope.
Astrocytoma, oligodendroglioma, and ependymoma are names of a few low-grade gliomas. These tumors can be cured and generally need only a single surgery and probably chemotherapy. If anyone has a low-grade glioma, they will have a good prognosis.
High-Grade Glioma: Grade III and IV
Grade III and IV gliomas are the high-grade gliomas which are very malignant. They are likely to spread faster and have abnormal structures when viewed through a microscope.
There are situations when high-grade gliomas emerge fully on their own, and a lower-grade glioma can become high-grade if left untreated for a long time.
What Results in a High-Grade Glioma?
Mostly, there are situations where there is no evidence of the development of high-grade gliomas. They are not passed down to generations. Also, it is not proven that external factors, like climate, diet, lifestyle, and culture, can cause high-grade gliomas.
According to researchers, the most prevalent reason is the absence of things viewed during normal development that cause the development of cancer.
The brain and spine cells develop and split as the body grows. As the cell division progresses, cells must reproduce their genetic material. Errors might happen all through the process. This results in mutations that may trigger cells to turn into tumors. Generally, these errors occur randomly and couldn’t have been averted.
Gliomas and Glioblastoma: What’s the Difference?
Both glioblastoma and glioma are forms of brain cancers that are generally caused because of glial cells. There are a few things that differentiate them.
Gliomas are an extensive categorization of brain tumors. These are often grouped into various categories depending on the kind of glial cells from where they originate. These include oligodendrogliomas, astrocytomas, and ependymomas. Gliomas are graded from I to IV and grade IV is the most aggressive.
Glioblastoma is classified as a grade IV glioma. It is a fatal type of glioma, growing swiftly and spreading to surrounding tissues. Also, sometimes, glioblastomas are called glioblastoma multiforme as they comprise plenty of cells.
Prevention From Gliomas
A majority of risk factors, like ethnicity and age, for glioma brain cancer are not possible to control. However, the earliest diagnosis and treatment of low-grade gliomas might decelerate their progression. If you have a family history of brain tumors, you might think of genetic testing. Visit your healthcare provider or a genetic counselor regarding the risks and benefits of genetic testing.
Also, you can lessen your exposure to radiation in your head and keep up a healthy lifestyle.
Who is at a Greater Risk of Developing a Glioma?
Glioma can happen to any person, but certain factors may raise the risk of cancer. Some of them are:
In children below 12 years of age and older adults aged more than 65 years, gliomas are most prevalent.
Compared to women, the chances of developing gliomas are a little higher in men.
Inherited genetic disorders might be another factor to raise the chances of glioma development.
As compared to other races or ethnicities, white people are more susceptible to developing gliomas.
Radiation Or Toxin Exposure
Frequent or extended contact with radiation or particular chemicals may raise your risk, too.
How is Glioma Brain Cancer Diagnosed?
There are plenty of tests and procedures meant to diagnose glioblastoma. These include the following:
Imaging tests can help locate the size and site of a glioblastoma. MRI is usually meant for the diagnosis of glioblastoma. CT and positron emission tomography (PET) are other imaging tests for glioblastoma diagnosis.
Taking Out a Sample of Tissue For Testing
Another diagnosing method is the removal of a sample of tissue for testing, which is done through a biopsy. In a biopsy, the practitioner uses a needle before or during surgery to remove the glioblastoma. Later, the sample is sent to a laboratory for testing. The tests determine whether there are any cancerous cells or not and whether there are glioblastoma cells.
A neurologic exam helps detect vision, balance, hearing, strength, reflexes, and coordination. If there are problems in any of these areas, it may be a sign of the part of the brain the glioblastoma affects.
Treatment For Glioma Brain Cancer
People often ask about the treatment plan for glioma brain cancer. Somebody having a glioma may seek a particular treatment plan. The plan may be based on various factors, which include the person’s health, age, and medical history. It may also include the tumor’s type, size, and site.
For a majority of folks, surgery is the primary treatment procedure. In surgery, a surgeon may remove every tumor they can find. However, taking out gliomas entirely may not be easy, particularly the hard-to-reach or around delicate brain areas.
Craniotomy or open brain surgery is the most common surgical method for removing tumors. You can be the ideal candidate for laser ablation, but that may depend on the site and size of the tumor. The surgery is minimally invasive and utilizes heat from a laser to destroy the whole or part of a brain tumor. The surgeon uses special methods like brain mapping to direct the surgery. Brain mapping detects the parts of your brain that regulate key functions. The surgeon learns to avoid removing or damaging healthy brain tissue with this information.
Chemotherapy is a method in which there is use of drugs for killing cancerous cells. This procedure can aid many cancers, including glioma brain stem cancer. Moreover, chemotherapy can be oral or intravenous.
One of the most common chemotherapy drugs is Temozolomide. It helps enhance the efficiency of radiation therapy.
In radiation therapy, there is the use of high doses of radiation to kill tumors. Your healthcare provider may recommend radiation therapy for gliomas. Radiation addresses the tumor’s specific shape, which lowers the risk of harm to surrounding tissues.
This treatment aims to interfere with particular molecules involved in cancerous cell multiplication and development.
Bevacizumab, an antiangiogenic medication, may help avert the development of new blood vessels that feed the tumor.
Immunotherapy is a growing area of study that seeks to use the body’s immune system to identify and combat cancerous cells.
These medications target immunological checkpoints, which increases the body’s capacity to create an immune reaction versus the tumor.
Routine follow-up visits are also crucial. These help keep track of the patient’s condition, assess therapy response, and address any emerging problems. CT scan and MRI are frequently used to check for recurrence or progression of the tumor.
Is Glioma Brain Cancer Treatable?
Various factors determine the capacity to treat glioma. These include the type and grade of the tumor, its site, the person’s age, and health.
Low-grade gliomas like pilocytic astrocytomas and some oligodendrogliomas may be more likely to cure than other gliomas. In certain situations, these tumors can be surgically taken out without the need for extra treatment.
High-grade gliomas like glioblastoma multiforme are harder to treat. These tumors grow faster, spread aggressively, and may resist treatment. Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation can aid decelerate the growth of these tumors and extend survival. But, they are often not curable.
What is the Glioma Brain Cancer Survival Rate
There are differing survival rates for glioma brain cancer. These differ based on the specific type and grade of the tumor. It also varies depending on the person’s health, age, and many other factors. Glioma of every stage has the following prognosis and a 5-year survival rate:
- Grade 1 glioma – Approx. 95 %
- Grade 2 glioma – Approx. 40-50 %
- Grade 3 glioma- Approx. 25 to 30%
- Grade 4 glioma- Approx. 5 to 10%
How is Life With Glioma?
As you have received treatment for cancer, you must keep in contact with your healthcare provider. Regular imaging scans may be needed to know if the cancer comes back.
The treatment for glioma brain cancer might result in damage to healthy brain tissue. Consulting with a therapist may aid you in regaining skills such as speaking, walking, and recalling.
Also, support groups for both the patient and their family may assist in better managing the physical and emotional challenges of living with cancer.
What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider?
If you have a tumor or glioma, you can ask your provider the questions mentioned below:
- What therapies are best for me?
- Are there any clinical studies in which I can take part?
- Can the cancer return after treatment?
- What is the cancer form and grade?
- How will therapy affect my mental abilities?
Glioma brain cancer requires precise diagnosis, tailored treatment, and thorough supportive care. The complicated nature and differing presentations of this cancer showcase a specific challenge to patients, caregivers, and medical professionals.
At University Cancer Centers, we know why immediate treatment and recovery from cancers is important. Our facility assures the best outcomes by prescribing every patient the right medication and therapy. We recommend personalized and coordinated cancer treatments to every patient. So, book your appointment now with University Cancer Centers to learn more about your condition.