What are gliomas?
Gliomas are a family of primary brain and spine tumors that are born in the brain and spine. They are different than secondary brain tumors. Secondary brain tumors spread or metastasize to the brain from another part of the body. Gliomas are characterized by invasive growth - the tumor cells form roots into the normal brain around the tumor. Consequently, even when the entire visible tumor is removed by the neurosurgeon, the roots are left behind. As such, other treatments are needed after surgery to manage what remains. Although gliomas can spread in the brain and spine, they usually do not spread into the rest of the body.
Unlike other cancers, gliomas are not staged. Instead they are graded. The grade of the tumor is determined by how abnormal the tumor looks under the microscope when examined by the neuropathologist. Generally speaking, the higher the grade, the more abnormal the tumor appears and the more aggressive the tumor behaves. The grade of the tumor cannot be established by imaging.
Subtypes of gliomas include:
How are gliomas diagnosed?
Imaging is essential to diagnosing and treating brain tumors. The most common imaging methods include CT scan and MRI. While these tests provide valuable information that helps in establishing your treatment plan, surgery is generally necessary to diagnose the tumor. Other tests frequently performed during treatment include blood work to measure blood counts and other body functions.
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