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Low-Grade Glioma


What is a low-grade glioma?

A low-grade glioma is a brain tumor. The tumor is formed by glial cells which support the neurons in your brain. Neurons are responsible for your movement, thought processing, and your senses. Most low-grade gliomas grow slowly and are more common in children and adults under 40.

What increases my risk for a low-grade glioma?

  • Genetic disorders, such as neurofibromatosis and tuberous sclerosis
  • Radiation therapy used to treat tumors of the head and neck

What are the signs and symptoms of a low-grade glioma?

Signs and symptoms will depend on the size and location of the tumor. The first symptom is usually a seizure. You may also have any of the following:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Numbness, weakness, or paralysis
  • Trouble concentrating or confusion
  • Personality changes
  • Vision problems

How is a low-grade glioma diagnosed?

You may need any of the following:

  • A neurologic exam is done to check brain function. Your healthcare provider will check how your pupils react to light. He may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.
  • A CT scan, MRI, or PET scan of your brain is done to look for a tumor. You may be given dye to help your brain show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • A biopsy may be done to learn what type of tumor you have. A sample of brain tissue will be taken during a procedure or surgery and sent to a lab for tests.

How are low-grade gliomas treated?

Treatment will depend on the location and type of tumor that you have. You may need any of the following:

  • Medicines can prevent or control seizures. You may also be given steroids to decrease or prevent brain swelling.
  • Surgery can remove part or all of your tumor. Ask for more information about surgery for low-grade gliomas.
  • Chemotherapy can shrink and kill tumor cells. Once the tumor is smaller, you may need surgery to remove the rest. Your healthcare provider may request blood tests to see how much chemotherapy you need.
  • Radiation uses x-rays or gamma rays to kill tumor cells and keep them from spreading. Radiation may be given after surgery to kill any tumor cells that were not removed.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • You are vomiting and cannot keep any food or liquids down.
  • You cannot make it to your radiation or chemotherapy appointment.
  • You have a new headache or dizziness.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You pass out or have a seizure.
  • You have numbness or drooping on one side of your face.
  • You have weakness in an arm or leg.
  • You have confusion or trouble speaking.
  • You have dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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