Brain Cancer and Gliomas
How Are Gliomas Treated? continued...
Treatment for Low-Grade Astrocytomas
The primary treatment for low-grade astrocytomas is surgery. However, because these tumors penetrate deep into the brain and grow into normal brain tissue, surgery is sometimes difficult. Radiation is often recommended after surgery or if there is a recurrence. Chemotherapy may also be used after surgery or as part of the treatment of recurrences.
Treatment for High-Grade Astrocytomas
Treatment for high-grade astrocytomas (Grade III anaplastic astrocytomas or Grade IV glioblastomas multiforme) is surgery, if possible. After surgery, radiation therapy, in conjunction with chemotherapy, is the next step. Sometimes surgery to remove the high-grade tumor is not possible. Then radiation and chemotherapy are used. If the tumor returns, the surgery may be repeated along with other forms of chemotherapy. Clinical trials may also be recommended to allow patients to use new therapies.
Treatment for Oligodendrogliomas
For oligodendrogliomas, surgery is the first choice of treatment to help relieve symptoms and increase patient survival. Radiation with or without chemotherapy may be given after surgery. Also, chemotherapy or radiation maybe used to shrink a tumor before surgery. If surgery cannot be done, then chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy may be used.
Treatment for Ependymomas and Anaplastic Ependymomas
Ependymomas and anaplastic ependymomas do not pass into normal brain tissue as do other gliomas. Therefore, surgery may be highly effective if all of the tumor is removed. However, ependymomas may seed the cerebrospinal fluid so the entire spinal canal needs evaluation with MRI scanning. These tumors are highly responsive to radiation. Clinical trials are underway to see if chemotherapy can take the place of radiation therapy.
What’s the Prognosis for Those With Gliomas?
High-grade gliomas are fast-growing tumors. with a poor prognosis, especially for older patients. For patients with a Grade IV glioblastoma, the average survival time is approximately 12 months. Few patients with glioblastoma (Grade IV glioma) survive beyond three years with conventional treatment.