Low-grade Gliomas

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

  • Low-grade gliomas (glee-O-mahs) are tumors (lumps) in the brain and spinal cord. The brain and spinal cord are made up of neurons (nerve cell). Neurons carry and transmit electrical signals (messages) within the nervous system. Glial cells support and nourish the neurons. Gliomas form when glial cells grow and divide without control or order. Gliomas may be grouped into grades based on how the tumor cells look under a microscope. The grade of glioma will tell how many abnormal cells are present in the tumor. Abnormal cells may range from grades 1 and 2 (low-grade) to grades 3 and 4 (high-grade).

  • In low-grade gliomas, tumor cells may look like normal brain cells. Most low-grade gliomas are benign (noncancerous), but may become malignant (cancerous) over time. These tumors often grow very slowly and are not likely to spread. Low-grade gliomas usually affect those between 35 and 45 years of age. There are different types of low-grade gliomas. Astrocytoma is the most common type of low-grade glioma. Other types include central neurocytoma, ependymoma, mixed glioma, oligondendroglioma, optic nerve glioma, or subependymal giant cell astrocytoma.

  • Signs and symptoms include seizures (convulsions), headaches, or trouble talking or seeing. You may also have nausea (upset stomach), vomiting (throwing up), and problems moving your limbs. Tests to diagnose low-grade gliomas may include computed tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). You may also have an angiography, blood tests, a biopsy, electroencephalogram (EEG), or neurological tests. The main treatment for low-grade gliomas is surgery. You may also have radiation, chemotherapy, or medicine to treat your signs and symptoms. Diagnosing and treating gliomas as soon as possible may relieve your symptoms, prevent life-threatening problems, and improve your quality of life.

INSTRUCTIONS:

Take your medicine as directed.

Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

  • Anticonvulsant medicine: This medicine is given to control seizures. Take this medicine exactly as directed.

  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.

    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.

    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.

    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.

  • Your caregiver may slowly decrease the amount of steroid medicine you are using. Do not change the amount or stop using this medicine until your caregiver tells you to.

  • If you are getting chemotherapy, take your medicine exactly as you are told.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Diet:

Eat a variety of healthy foods. Eat different foods from the following groups every day:

  • Bread, cereal, rice, and pasta.

  • Vegetables.

  • Fruits.

  • Milk, yogurt, and cheese.

  • Meat, poultry (chicken), fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts.

  • Ask your caregiver how many servings of fats, oils and sweets should be included in your diet.
Eating healthy foods may help you feel better and have more energy. It may also help you heal faster. If you are on chemotherapy and have trouble swallowing, eat foods that are soft or in liquid form. Ask your caregiver about any extra nutrition you may need, such as nutrition shakes or vitamins. Tell your caregiver if you have problems eating, or if you are getting sick to your stomach.

Drinking liquids:

Drink extra liquids to avoid dehydration (loss of body fluid). You will also need to replace fluid if you are vomiting or have diarrhea from cancer treatments. Ask your caregiver which liquids to drink and how much you need each day.

Learn ways to manage stress. Deep breathing, meditation, and listening to music may help you cope with stressful events. Talk to your caregiver about other ways to manage stress.

Rest as often as you need to.

Rest is important for your recovery. Do not return to your regular activities too quickly. Start slowly and do more as you feel stronger. Rest during the day. Plan for 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Contact your healthcare provider if you are not able to sleep.

CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:

  • You have a fever.

  • You are throwing up and cannot keep any food or liquids down.

  • You cannot make it to your radiation or chemotherapy visit.

  • You have a very bad headache or you feel dizzy.

  • Your pain is worse or does not go away after taking your medicine.

  • You have questions or concerns about your tumor, treatment or medicine.

SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:

  • You cannot think clearly.

  • You pass out or have a seizure (convulsion).

  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:

    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face

    • Weakness in an arm or leg

    • Confusion or difficulty speaking

    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Low-grade Gliomas (Aftercare Instructions)

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