Get Treatment For Gliomas

Great Surgical Care at Marina del Rey Hospital

Why Choose Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Glioma Treatment?

Since 1969, our hospital has been providing the community of Los Angeles with healthcare and we have always been striving to enhance the quality of our services. With the aid of state-of-the-art technology, our skillful and talented surgeons can treat gliomas with minimal risk of postoperative complications. If you choose to undergo treatment for glioma at Cedars Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital, you will receive the healthcare you need in a warm and compassionate environment, as we place great emphasis on the comfort and wellbeing of the patient.

As a type of brain tumor, glioma begins developing in the glial cells, which support the function of the neurons. The majority of gliomas occur in the cerebral hemispheres of the brain, which are the largest, outermost part of the brain that controls numerous functions, such as movement, speech, thinking, and emotions. However, gliomas can also occur in the brain stem, the lower part of the organ that controls breathing, blood pressure, and heartbeat. Finally, this brain tumor can also develop on the optic nerves and cerebellum, the latter being responsible for maintaining balance and other nonthinking functions of the body.

It is important to know that gliomas can be benign or malignant. Unfortunately, in 70% of cases, gliomas are cancerous. They account for 3 in 10 of all tumors that develop in the brain. In the United States, there are 6 cases of glioma diagnosed in 100,000 people annually. Thereby, gliomas are quite rare.

If you struggle with glioma, the most effective treatment approach for you will highly depend on the location of the tumor, whether it has spread to other parts of the brain, your age, your overall health, and your preferences. The most common treatment for gliomas is surgery, whose purpose is to partially or entirely remove the malignant tumor.

During surgery, a sample of tissue will be collected from the tumor, which will subsequently be sent to a laboratory, where a pathologist will examine it to confirm or deny the presence of glioma cells. Undergoing surgery will also relieve some of the pressure caused by the tumor in your brain. There are 2 types of surgery for gliomas, namely:

  • Craniotomy: This surgical procedure entails the removal of a part of the bone from the skull to expose the brain with the help of special tools. The bone will be reattached to the skull once the surgery is completed. In some cases, magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography is used to guide the surgical tools inside the brain to remove the malignant tumor. The surgeons will remove as much as possible of the glioma in your brain.
  • Awake brain surgery: During this procedure, the patient is sedated, but awake so that they can respond to the questions of the surgeons. This surgical procedure is usually employed when glioma is too close to the areas of the brain that control vision, language, and body movements or when craniotomy would result in a considerable loss of function. When awake brain surgery is performed, the surgeon works closely with the neuroanesthesiologist. Depending on the particularities of each case, the patient may be awake during the entire procedure or sedated at the beginning and at the end of the surgery and awake in the middle of it.

Regrettably, some gliomas cannot be treated with surgery, as performing a surgical procedure would result in severe nervous system damage. These patients may want to undergo clinical trials, in which they will have the chance of receiving the latest treatments available for their gliomas, which may improve their quality of life, as well as prolong their life expectancy. Other treatments for gliomas include:

  • chemotherapy: whether it comes in the form of a pill or intravenous injection, chemotherapy has the purpose of keeping gliomas under control and preventing the malignant tumor from spreading to other parts of the brain
  • radiotherapy: radiotherapy may be given to the patient before or after the surgery and has the purpose of destroying as many malignant cells as possible while keeping cancer under control

Temozolomide is the most effective chemotherapy drug for glioma at the moment. It is worthy of note that, following surgery, some patients will have their motor skills, balance, or other functions affected as a result of removing the malignant tumor. In such cases, undergoing physical therapy is a very good idea, as the patient can regain some of the functions they lost following surgery. Furthermore, physical therapy can help patients regain their strength and relearn certain skills. Occupational therapy can also help people who underwent surgery for glioma learn new ways of performing everyday tasks.

There are multiple types of gliomas, depending on the brain cells from which they stem, namely:

  • astrocytoma: this type of glioma is a malignant tumor that develops in the astrocytes, the glial cells in the brain, which are also the fastest-growing, and astrocytomas are medically known as glioblastomas
  • oligodendroglioma: these gliomas occur in oligodendrocytes, which are glial cells that usually form a cover for nerve fibers in the brain
  • oligoastrocytoma: these gliomas are a mix of abnormal oligodendrocytes and astrocytes
  • ependymoma: this type of glioma develops in the cells lining the cavities of the brain and spinal canal and are the most common in children
  • ganglioglioma: this is a rare glioma that can occur in the brain or spine and forms from both glial cells and nerve cells

Symptoms of Gliomas

The symptoms of gliomas are very similar to those of other types of brain tumors. They include:

  • headaches
  • seizures
  • nausea and vomiting
  • vision or hearing problems
  • balance problems such as dizziness and difficulty walking
  • slurred speech
  • muscle or nervous system problems such as weakness or paralysis
  • confusion or a decline in brain function
  • urinary incontinence
  • personality changes or irritability
  • memory loss

Diagnosis of Gliomas

The diagnosis of gliomas begins with a nervous system exam, during which your reflexes, vision, balance, and speech will be evaluated. If your doctor suspects you have glioma, they will order a CT or MRI scan, both very precise tests that will provide your physician with clear images from the inside of your brain. These tests will show the size of your glioma and whether it has spread to other areas of the brain. Other tests for detecting glioma include:

  • a biopsy: the surgeon will collect a sample of tissue that will subsequently be sent to a laboratory to be analyzed by a pathologist, which will help the medical team determine the specific cells that are occurring in your brain tumor
  • eye exam: your doctor may examine your eyes for swelling caused by the pressure glioma is putting on your optic nerve

Unfortunately, there are no known causes of gliomas. Medical researchers are still trying to identify the cause of gliomas, which most often develop in adults between the ages of 45 and 65. However, there are several risk factors that may increase your risk of developing glioma, namely:

  • being male
  • having a family history of glioma
  • being white
  • exposure to ionizing radiation in the head or neck area

There is no way to prevent developing glioma if you are predisposed to it. However, you can avoid exposure to ionizing radiation in the head and neck area if possible to limit your chances of developing it.

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