Glioma is a type of tumor that occurs in the brain and spinal cord. Gliomas form from the cells (glial cells) that surround and support nerve cells.

Types of glioma include:

  • Astrocytomas, including astrocytoma, anaplastic astrocytoma and glioblastoma
  • Ependymomas, including anaplastic ependymoma, myxopapillary ependymoma and subependymoma
  • Oligoastrocytomas, including oligodendroglioma, anaplastic oligodendroglioma and anaplastic oligoastrocytoma
  • Mixed tumor types, which involve more than one type of cell

What type of glioma you have helps determine your treatment and your prognosis. In general, glioma treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and clinical trials.

  • Collaboration. At Mayo Clinic, doctors who treat tumors of the brain and spinal cord (neuro-oncologists) work with neurosurgeons, neurologists, oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists and radiologists to form a multidisciplinary team to provide whole-person care for people with glioma. Other professionals are included as needed.
  • Experience. Mayo Clinic doctors have extensive experience caring for children and adults with glioma, including more common and rarer types of this disease. Your care team is prepared with the knowledge and resources to provide you with exactly the care you need.
  • A full range of treatment options to consider. Mayo Clinic doctors will work with you to review all of your treatment options and choose the treatment that best suits your needs and goals. The range of treatments offered to people with glioma includes surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and targeted therapy.
  • Access to the latest. Mayo Clinic doctors have access to the latest diagnostic and treatment options. Mayo Clinic has been recognized with a Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant for brain cancer from the National Cancer Institute.
  • Comprehensive cancer center. Mayo Clinic Cancer Center meets strict standards for a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center, which recognizes scientific excellence and a multidisciplinary approach to cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., are ranked among the Best Hospitals for cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., is ranked high performing for cancer by U.S. News & World Report.

At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical institution that reinvests all earnings into improving medical practice, research and education. We're constantly involved in innovation and medical research, finding solutions to improve your care and quality of life. Your doctor or someone on your medical team is likely involved in research related to your condition.

Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care — and trusted answers — like they've never experienced.

Why Choose Mayo Clinic

What Sets Mayo Clinic Apart

Tests and procedures used to diagnose glioma include:

  • Comprehensive examination. Your doctor will ask you questions about your medical history and your signs and symptoms. He or she will conduct a physical exam that includes your vision, hearing, balance, coordination and reflexes. Your results give your doctor clues about the location and extent of your brain tumor.
  • Imaging tests. Your doctor may recommend specialized imaging tests to locate a brain or spinal cord tumor and better understand its effects on the surrounding tissue.

    Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one of the most common imaging tests used for brain and spinal cord. At Mayo Clinic, doctors use advanced MRI techniques, such as perfusion, functional mapping, intraoperative and 3-tesla (3-T) MRI.

    Other imaging techniques to diagnose and understand the nature of your glioma include CT scan, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photo emission computerized tomography (SPECT).

    A brain X-ray that uses a special dye (angiogram) can help doctors view blood vessels in and around a glioma.

  • Biopsy. Biopsy involves removing a piece of the tumor for testing in a laboratory. Biopsy helps your doctor understand what types of cells are involved in your cancer.

At Mayo Clinic, you'll have access to a wide range of treatments. Your medical team collaborates to design a treatment plan that delivers exactly the care you need.

Surgery

Skilled neurosurgeons work to remove the entire glioma or as much of the tumor as possible. At Mayo Clinic, neurosurgeons have extensive experience performing a wide range of tumor-removing operations.

In some cases, neuropathologists may analyze tissue samples removed by a surgeon and report the results while surgery is underway. This information helps the surgeon decide how much tissue to remove while preserving as much surrounding healthy brain tissue as possible.

Mayo Clinic offers the latest surgical technologies and techniques, including:

Radiation therapy

Radiation oncologists use high-energy beams of radiation to treat brain tumors, including gliomas. At Mayo Clinic, radiation oncologists are highly trained and experienced in designing radiation therapy plans to focus treatment on the tumor, while minimizing radiation exposure to healthy tissue.

Mayo Clinic radiation oncologists have access to the latest technologies and treatment techniques including:

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs may be administered in pill form or as an injection into a vein. Sometimes both methods are used.

Chemotherapy can be used alone or it can be combined with radiation therapy to treat gliomas.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy uses drugs that are designed to attack the specific vulnerabilities present in your tumor cells.

Mayo Clinic pathologists use advanced laboratory tests to understand what types of treatments may be most effective for your glioma.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials test new medications to understand if they're more effective than standard treatments. Mayo Clinic designs and participates in many clinical trials specifically for people with brain tumors and gliomas.

Supportive therapy

Your care team includes professionals who can help you cope with the signs and symptoms of your glioma and to recover from treatment. What supportive services you require will depend on your particular situation, but could include:

  • Occupational therapy
  • Pain management
  • Physical therapy
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Speech therapy

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people. In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

At Mayo Clinic, specialists in neuro-oncology, neurology, neurosurgery and radiation oncology collaborate to form a multidisciplinary team to provide expert, whole-person care for adults 18 and older who have glioma.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 800-446-2279 (toll-free) 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

At Mayo Clinic, specialists in neuro-oncology, neurology, neurosurgery and radiation oncology collaborate to form a multidisciplinary team to provide expert, whole-person care for adults and for children 16 years and older who have glioma.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 904-953-0853 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

At Mayo Clinic, specialists in neuro-oncology, neurology, neurosurgery and radiation oncology collaborate to form a multidisciplinary team to provide expert, whole-person care for children, adolescents and adults who have glioma.

Experts in pediatric oncology usually manage care for children with pediatric brain tumors.

For appointments or more information, call the Central Appointment Office at 507-538-3270 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday or complete an online appointment request form.

See information on patient services at the three Mayo Clinic locations, including transportation options and lodging.

Doctors and scientists in Mayo Clinic's Neuro-Oncology Program are studying new ways to diagnose and treat brain tumors, including gliomas.

Cancer research is conducted in coordination with the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. The Mayo Clinic Cancer Center receives funding from the National Cancer Institute and is designated as a comprehensive cancer center — recognition for an institution's scientific excellence and multidisciplinary resources focused on cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

See a list of publications by Mayo Clinic authors on glioma on PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine.

Jul. 19, 2014