Gliomatosis Cerebri

Also called: Cerebri gliomatosis multiforme

What is gliomatosis cerebri?

Gliomatosis cerebri is a type of brain cancer where the tumor cells grow throughout the brain. This can lead to these important areas becoming larger than normal:

  • The cerebrum—controls motor (movement) functions, sensory perception, personality and emotions
  • The cerebellum—controls balance and coordinates movement
  • The brain stem—controls body functions including breathing, blood pressure, digestion and heart rate

How common is gliomatosis cerebri?

Gliomatosis cerebri is a very rare tumor.

What are the symptoms of gliomatosis cerebri?

If your child has gliomatosis cerebri, the symptoms that occur are related to what area of the brain is affected. The following symptoms may occur:

  • Seizures
  • Personality changes
  • Memory loss
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle weakness or paralysis on one side of the body

How is gliomatosis cerebri treated?

  • Surgery — is needed to get a biopsy (small sample) of the abnormal brain tissue to confirm the diagnosis. Surgery to completely remove the tumor is not an option in these cases because of the way this disease can grow throughout the brain.
  • Radiation therapy — uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing:
    • External radiation uses machines outside the body to deliver the X-ray dose.
  • Chemotherapy (“chemo”) — uses powerful medicines to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing (dividing) and making more cancer cells:
    • Chemo may be injected into the bloodstream, so that it can travel throughout the body.
    • Some chemo may be given by mouth.
    • Combination therapy uses more than one type of chemo at a time.
    • Chemo may be used in children younger than age 3 to postpone the need for radiation.

Tumors that return can be treated with more chemo or radiation therapy depending on prior therapy.

What are the survival rates for gliomatosis cerebri?

The overall survival rate for gliomatosis cerebri is about 5%. But the search for new treatments that may improve survival is ongoing.

Why choose St. Jude for your child’s gliomatosis cerebri treatment?

  • St. Jude has one of the largest pediatric brain tumor programs in the country.
  • The St. Jude staff is dedicated to treating children who have serious illnesses. Here, you will find a hospital and staff that has only one focus—your child.
  • St. Jude is committed to not only finding cures, but also helping children hold on to their quality of life. Children are not just small people. Their bodies and systems are unique, along with the disorders that affect them. For the best care, they need a specialized team. That is what you get from the St. Jude Brain Tumor Program.
  • By working closely with the pediatric neurosurgeons at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, the St. Jude Brain Tumor Program offers an expert team of doctors from many medical fields. The team includes: neuro-oncologists, who study and treat cancer in the brain and nervous system; neurosurgeons, who operate on the brain, skull and spinal cord; and radiation oncologists, who treat cancer with radiation. All of these doctors have devoted their careers to finding cures and providing treatment for children with brain tumors. This diverse knowledge is vital to the complete care of children with brain tumors.
  • Our brain tumor doctors also work closely with support staff in nursing, rehabilitation services, neuropathology, pharmacy, neuroradiology, neuropsychology, clinical nutrition, child life and social work, along with many others. Support staff members have been specially trained to care for children with brain tumors.
  • The nurse-to-patient ratio at St. Jude is unmatched— averaging 1:3 in hematology and oncology and 1:1 in the Intensive Care Unit.
  • The St. Jude Brain Tumor Program has made great advances in treatments for brain tumor patients. Some of the world’s best neuroscientists, cancer biologists and doctors from the St. Jude Neurobiology and Brain Tumor Divisions combine their efforts to seek cures. In this interactive program, discoveries about the biology of both normal and harmful cell growth are rapidly tested in clinic studies. These studies include Phase I, II and III trials of the most common and deadly forms of childhood brain tumors.
  • Being able to take a drug directly from the lab to your child is one of the major advantages of centers like St. Jude. Before treating a patient with any of new drug, the St. Jude staff does many tests in the lab. The tests show if the drug is safe, if it works, and the best way to use it to help patients.
  • Along with the treatment studies constantly being developing at St. Jude, the staff also treats patients on studies developed by the Children’s Oncology Group, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium and the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium. Many St. Jude staff members play key roles in developing these studies, which are large tests carried out at centers across the United States.
  • St. Jude practices patient family-centered care. Patient family-centered care is health care that focuses on the family as a child’s primary source of strength, support and well-being. At the heart of patient family-centered care is the belief that health care staff and the family are partners, working together to best meet the needs of the child. Excellence in health care happens when we work together and honor the expertise each of us brings to every health care encounter.
  • St. Jude is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children.

Contact the Brain Tumor Team any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Call our Brain Tumor Coordinator, Tabatha E. Doyle, RN:
(901) 595-2544 or
(901) 595-4599

Or email us at braintumors@stjude.org

The St. Jude Web site is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through this site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.