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These tumors arise from oligodendrocytes, a type of supportive brain tissue. They most frequently occur in young and middle-aged adults but are also found in children.
The most common site is one of the cerebral lobes (50 percent occur in the frontal lobe). Seizures are the most common initial symptom.
Pure oligodendrogliomas are rare. Mixed gliomas, tumors containing both oligodendrocytes and astrocytes, are far more common. Oligodendrogliomas often contain a large amount of mineral deposits, called calcification. The cells of the well-differentiated oligodendroglioma look only slightly abnormal when viewed under a microscope. It tends to be a slow-growing tumor. An anaplastic (malignant) oligodendroglioma has very abnormal looking cells, and is faster growing.
This tumor represents about 4 percent of all primary brain tumors.
Following a complete resection of the tumor, chances of long-term survival are near 100 percent. If the surgeon could not remove the entire tumor, sometimes radiation therapy is necessary. The prognosis still remains very high, 80-90 percent.
Standard treatment for accessible tumors is surgical removal of as much tumor as possible. Biopsy alone will be done to confirm the specific tumor type with inaccessible tumors. Radiation therapy might follow. Recurrent tumors can be treated with a second surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or biologic therapy.
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