Childhood Oligodendroglioma

Expert Care and Treatment for Childhood Brain Tumors

The Childhood Brain Tumor Center at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center is a world-renowned destination for children with malignant and non-malignant brain and spinal cord tumors. Our patients receive care from neurologists, neuro-oncologists, neurosurgeons, and pediatric subspecialists with extensive expertise in the conditions we treat.

Childhood Brain Tumor Center

What Is Childhood Oligodendroglioma?

Oligodendroglioma is a brain tumor that arises from an oligodendrocyte cell. Oligodendrocytes are glial cells that make up the supportive network for brain and spinal cord nerves.

  • Oligodendroglioma is a low-grade glioma.
  • They occur primarily in the frontal lobe, the section of the brain that influences personality and reasoning. However, they can appear anywhere in the brain or along the spinal cord.
  • Most of these tumors develop spontaneously for no known reason. Specific genetic syndromes, such as neurofibromatosis (NF1) and tuberous sclerosis, increase the risk of developing brain tumors, including oligodendroglioma.

At Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, our comprehensive glioma team, including neuro-oncologists, surgeons, and pathologists, provides expert care to children and teens with oligodendrogliomas in our Childhood Glioma Program, which is part of our Brain Tumor Center.

Symptoms of Childhood Oligodendroglioma

Due to the relatively slow growth rate of oligodendrogliomas, your child may have been having symptoms for many months by the time he sees the doctor, although symptoms can come on rapidly, too.

While each child may experience symptoms differently, the most common ones result from increased brain pressure. They include:

  • Headache (generally upon awakening in the morning)
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures and hemiparesis (weakness on one side of his body)

The symptoms of an oligodendroglioma may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

How We Diagnose Childhood Oligodendroglioma

Your child’s physician will order various diagnostic tests to form a complete diagnosis. Testing may include imaging studies, biopsy, and EEG.

After we complete all tests, we will discuss the results and most effective treatment options with your family.

How We Treat Childhood Oligodendroglioma

We create individualized treatment plans for each child. Treatment may include:

  • Surgery: Surgery may involve removing as much of the tumor as possible.
  • Chemotherapy: We may use chemotherapy, a drug treatment that aims to destroy or shrink cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy: We only use radiation therapy if it’s appropriate for the type of glioma. Most often, we recommend it for high-grade gliomas.

The recommended treatment for progressive or recurrent oligodendroglioma is a second surgical procedure to remove the remaining tumor, followed by radiation therapy, chemotherapy or biologic therapy.

We offer extensive support before, during, and after treatment. Once treatment is complete, we continue to care for children and their families through our pediatric cancer survivorship programs, including the Stop & Shop Family Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Outcomes Clinic for pediatric brain tumor survivors. These services address health and social issues, ranging from motor function evaluation and physical therapy to return-to-school and learning programs.

Long-term Outcomes for Children with Oligodendroglioma

Oligodendrogliomas are associated with a high cure rate. Following complete removal of the tumor, the chance of long-term survival is near 90 percent. If the tumor is not completely removed and radiation therapy is needed, the prognosis remains high, with survival rates ranging from 80 to 90 percent.

Childhood Oligodendroglioma Treatment Team

We bring together an experienced team of pediatric brain tumor experts to treat children with oligodendroglioma. See a complete list of the specialists in our Childhood Brain Tumor Center.