Why choose Mayo Clinic

By Mayo Clinic Staff


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  • Expertise and experience. Mayo Clinic is one of the largest brain tumor treatment centers in the world. All three Mayo Clinic locations have comprehensive neuro-oncology programs with doctors who specialize in imaging, analyzing and treating brain tumors. Mayo Clinic specialists treat about 1,600 children and adults with gliomas each year.
  • Technology. Mayo Clinic specialists use state-of-the-art diagnostic tests and surgical techniques.
  • Efficient and compassionate care. Testing and treatment planning can usually be done in a few days rather than weeks. Surgery can be quickly scheduled if needed. Mayo specialists pay close attention to your quality of life as you receive glioma treatment.
  • Access to experimental treatments. Mayo specialists are conducting leading-edge studies on new treatments for glioma. Mayo Clinic is one of only three centers with a Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant for brain cancer from the National Cancer Institute. Mayo Clinic patients are among the first to benefit from new findings.
  • 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.


Gliomas are classified into four types.


Astrocytomas are the most common glioma. They can occur in most parts of the brain and occasionally in the spinal cord.

Astrocytomas are classified as:

  • Pilocytic astrocytoma (grade I). These rare tumors are more common in children than adults, and can often be surgically removed. If your surgeon is unable to remove the entire tumor, it may remain inactive or be successfully treated with radiation.
  • Low-grade astrocytoma (grade II). Grade II tumors are slow-growing tumors that penetrate the surrounding normal brain tissue, making complete surgical removal more difficult. Because these tumors may be very slow growing, your doctor may recommend simple observation, or may consider radiation or chemotherapy or both, after surgery. Most grade II tumors eventually evolve into more-aggressive tumors (grade III or IV), but this process may take many years.
  • Anaplastic astrocytoma (grade III). Grade III astrocytomas are more aggressive than grade II, but not as rapidly growing as grade IV tumors. Treatment involves removing as much of the tumor as possible, followed by radiation therapy and sometimes chemotherapy.
  • Glioblastoma (grade IV). Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive astrocytoma. These tumors tend to infiltrate throughout the area of the brain where the tumor is located, making them more difficult to completely remove surgically. Surgery is generally followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Grade IV tumors tend to recur and are rarely cured.


Ependymomas begin in cells lining the passageways that contain fluid protecting the brain and spinal cord (cerebrospinal fluid). These rare tumors can be located anywhere in the brain or spine. Surgical removal is typically recommended for low-grade brain and spinal ependymomas. If the cancer cannot be completely removed surgically, radiation therapy is typically used.


These tumors begin in cells that support and nourish other cells that transmit nerve impulses (oligodendrocytes). Oligodendrogliomas are normally found in the main part of the brain (cerebrum). Treatment typically consists of surgery to remove the tumor and, depending on grade and other features of the tumor, may be followed by radiation therapy, chemotherapy or both. Tests done on the cancer cells can help determine how sensitive these tumors are to chemotherapy and guide treatment recommendations.

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

Mayo Clinic: Answers you can trust

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.

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