A glioma is a type of tumor that starts in the brain or spine. Children with neurofibromatosis (NF-1) often develop an optic glioma, which is a tumor in or near the optic nerve.



Doctors divide gliomas into three categories based on the type of brain cell they form in.

  • Astrocytomas, or glioblastomas, are tumors that arise from astrocyte cells. 
  • Ependymomas are tumors arising from the ependymal cells lining the fluid-filled parts of the brain and spinal canal. 
  • Oligodendrogliomas are tumors originating in the oligodendrocyte cells that produce the proteins and fats that coat the nerve cells. 
Tumors made of more than one type of cell are called mixed gliomas or oligoastrocytomas.


Common glioma symptoms include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of vision or double vision
  • Memory loss
  • Personality changes, especially irritability
  • Headaches
  • Seizures


First, you’ll meet with your doctor for a physical exam. You’ll discuss your symptoms and your doctor may order imaging tests, such as an MRI, a CT scan or an EEG. 

After that, your doctor may perform a stereotactic biopsy using a 3D computer that guides a needle to the tumor to remove a small section for closer examination.

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Treatment Options

If you have a glioma, your Aurora care team, including neurosurgeons and neurologists from the Aurora Neuroscience Innovation Institute, will create a personalized treatment plan to meet your needs. Treatment for gliomas typically includes a combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. 

Glioma treatments may include the use of:
  • Brain mapping technology, a minimally invasive procedure to access the tumor through a dime-sized channel, or port. 
  • Chemotherapy, which uses cancer-fighting drugs to stop the growth of tumors.
  • Stereotactic radiotherapy, which uses high-energy radiation to treat the tumor. This may include CyberKnife® radiosurgery, in which a non-invasive, robotic system delivers high doses of radiation to tumors with pinpoint accuracy. 
  • Whole brain radiation may also be used for some tumors, particularly those that have metastasized.

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