Oligodendrocytes are cells which make up the brain’s supportive tissue (glial). Oligodendrogliomas are tumors which originate from these cells. These tumors can either be low or high-grade. Grades I and II would be low and Grade III, or anaplastic types, are high.

Presence in the Brain

The brain’s frontal and temporal lobes are the most common locations for the development of these tumors, although they can be found anywhere within the cerebral hemisphere.

Anatomy of the Tumor Cell

Oligodendrogliomas are typically soft with a grayish-pink color. Oftentimes, they contain calcifications, also known as mineral deposits, as well as cysts and areas of hemorrhage. When looked at through a microscope, these tumors appear to have a fried egg shape.

Other cell types may sometimes mix with oligodendrogliomas. These tumors are graded on an “A to D” classification scale which is dependent on the microscopic features of the tumor cells. Grades will tell how aggressive the tumor is and how quickly the cells reproduce.

Signs and Symptoms

A tumor’s slow growth typically means it exists for years before diagnosis. Seizures, headaches and changes in personality are common indicators but other symptoms may vary depending on the size and location of the oligodendroglioma.

Seizures or language problems are associated with tumors of the temporal lobe but are usually “silent” and cause few symptoms other than the ones previously mentioned. Frontal lobe tumors may cause changes in behavior, problems with short-term memory and weakness on one side of the body.

Incidence of Brain Masses

Oligodendrogliomas occur mostly in adults aged 50 to 60 and are more commonly found in men. Around 4% of primary brain tumors are oligodendrogliomas, making up 10 to 15% of gliomas. Only 6% of those are found in infants and children.

Chromosomal abnormalities may play a role in the development of these tumors according to scientific theories, but their exact cause is unknown.


Access to the tumor will determine if the mass’s standard surgical removal is possible. A biopsy is typically ordered for tumors with limited access to confirm diagnosis and grade of the mass. Radiation, chemotherapy and surgery are viable options for reoccurring and low-grade (Grade I) oligodendrogliomas.

  • Grade II: After a low-grade oligodendroglioma’s successful removal, doctors will closely follow and monitor the brain via MRI scans. Residual tumor tissue can be handled with radiation treatment and follow-up surgery if needed.
  • Grade III: Typically, anaplastic oligodendrogliomas are treated with a conjunction of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Those which are recurrent may be handled with surgery and/or chemotherapy.

You Are Not Alone in Your Fight Against Brain Cancer

We are here for you or your loved one every step of the way. Located conveniently in New Jersey, our practice is equipped with a neurosurgery team that will compassionately guide you through every stage of treatment. If you have recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor, contact us at 866-467-1770.

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