About Low-Grade Glioma

Low-grade glioma is one of the most common types of primary brain tumor. It starts in the glial cells that support (glue together) and protect the neurons in the brain and other parts of your nervous system.

Low-grade glioma can be low grade (slow growing) or high grade (rapidly growing). There are three types:

  • low-grade astrocytoma, which affects the type of glial cells called astrocytes
  • low-grade oligodendroglioma, which affects glial oligodendrocytes
  • mixed glioma, which involves both astrocytes and oligodendrocytes

Sometimes low-grade gliomas change into high-grade gliomas over time. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to helping you manage this type of tumor.

Risk Factors for Low-Grade Glioma

For the most part, it’s unclear why brain tumors develop. Some people are believed to get them as a result of having previously had radiation therapy to the head or neck. In rare cases, genetic factors, such as neurofibromatosis and Li-Fraumeni syndrome, increase the risk.

It’s important to know some of the myths about brain tumors too. For example, there’s no scientific proof that cell phones, head injuries, exposure to petrochemicals, or aspartame consumption increase the chances of developing low-grade glioma.

How We Care for You

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, our Brain Tumor Center provides world-class care to people with low-grade glioma. We have a multidisciplinary team of neurosurgeons and other experts who specialize in researching and caring for people with this condition.

As a comprehensive cancer center, we combine state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment technologies with follow-up care and rehabilitation services. We’re also sensitive to and skilled at managing any side effects you may experience during or after treatment.

Our Brain Tumor Center is one of only a few centers in the world that has been using personalized, molecular medicine as a routine part of the treatment of brain tumors; we’re developing therapies that target very specific genetic alterations in cancer cells.

For people whose low-grade glioma doesn’t respond to treatment, or whose tumor returns after therapy (recurs), we can often offer the option of participating in a clinical trial of a new, experimental therapy.