The treatment of an oligodendroglioma depends on whether a tumour is grade 2 or grade 3.
Watch and wait
Some grade 2 oligodendrogliomas grow very slowly and you may be put on ' watch and wait' which involves close monitoring of your tumour using MRI scans.
Surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy
If the tumour is large or causing symptoms, surgery may be performed to remove as much as possible if it is located in an area where it is safe to remove. If the neurosurgeon manages to remove all of the visible tumour cells, this may be the only treatment you receive and you might then be put on 'watch and wait'. If the tumour appears to have changed or grown, this is when your doctors will consider additional surgery or starting treatment with radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Many patients with a grade 2 oligodendroglioma will remain in remission (i.e. no signs of the tumour growing) for several years after surgery.
Like grade 2, grade 3 oligodendrogliomas are usually first treated with surgery. If the tumour is located in an area where it is safe to remove, the neurosurgeon will attempt to remove as much as possible. Oligodendrogliomas are often 'diffuse' meaning they have threadlike tendrils that extend into parts of the brain making it difficult to remove completely. After surgery patients will often receive a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Effectiveness of treatment
The use of chemotherapy is particularly successful as a treatment when it is administered to patients whose tumours contain a particular gene change called the 1p and 19q chromosomal deletions. People whose tumour cells have this gene change respond well to PCV chemotherapy and detecting this genetic alteration with a test is now essential when evaluating what treatment is used for people with these tumours. Please see our biomarkers page for more information
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