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Glioma refers to a type of brain tumor that develops from the glial cells, which are specialized cells that surround and support neurons (nerve cells) in the brain. It is generally classified based on which type of glial cell is involved in the tumor:

Low-grade brain glioma in a 28-year-old male. (Taken on 10 July 2007)


Gliomas are classified according to the type of glial cell involved in the tumor, as well as the tumor's genetic features, which can help predict how the tumor will behave over time and the treatments most likely to work.

  • Astocytoma - tumors that develop from star-shaped glial cells called astrocytes
  • Ependymomas - tumors that arise from ependymal cells that line the ventricles of the brain and the center of the spinal cord
  • Oligodendrogliomas - tumors that affect the oligodendrocytes


The exact underlying cause is unknown.

Risk factors

Hereditary disorders such as neurofibromatoses (type 1 and type 2) and tuberous sclerosis complex are known to predispose to their development.

Dietary link

  • Some studies of diet and vitamin supplementation seem to indicate that dietary N-nitroso compounds might influence the risk of both childhood and adult brain tumors.
  • Researchers have observed in some studies that brain tumor patients (or their mothers) have generally consumed more cured foods

Cell phone use link

A link between gliomas and electromagnetic radiation from cell phones has not been conclusively proven. Most glioblastomas are infected with cytomegalovirus, which speeds the development of tumors.


The symptoms of glioma vary by tumor type as well as the tumor's size, location and rate of growth. Common signs and symptoms of gliomas include:


  • Biopsy: This is a procedure to remove a small sample of the tumor for examination under a microscope


In general, glioma treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and experimental clinical trials. The medication(s) listed below have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as orphan products for treatment of this condition.

  • 5-aminolevulinic acid (Brand name: Gleolan) Optical imaging agent indicated in patients with glioma (suspected World Health Organization Grades III or IV on preoperative imaging) as an adjunct for the visualization of malignant tissue during surgery.
  • Polifeprosan 20 with carmustine (Brand name: Gliadel®)Expanding the indication to include patients with malignant glioma undergoing primary surgical resection.
  • Temozolomide (Brand name: Temodar®)Treatment of adult patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme concomitantly with radiotherapy and then as maintenance treatment

NIH genetic and rare disease info

Glioma is a rare disease.

Latest research - Glioma

Clinical trials


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