For everyone who’s treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering, follow-up examinations are critical. They help us look for possible signs that a tumor has come back and keep track of your overall health.
Sometimes low-grade gliomas come back as more serious high-grade gliomas.
After your surgery, you’ll have an MRI scan to determine how much of the tumor was removed and whether you need more treatment. MRI scans are also done at scheduled times after radiation therapy and chemotherapy to watch for any new tumor growth.
If cancer does come back, we have several treatment options. Depending on your situation, your treatment team may recommend more surgery, radiation therapy, standard chemotherapy, or therapies offered through clinical trials. Your team will heavily weigh your quality of life as a factor in considering additional treatment.
Managing Side Effects
In addition to watching for any signs that the tumor has come back, follow-up exams can help in finding and managing side effects of this type of tumor.
Managing Cognitive (Thinking and Memory) Problems
As you undergo treatment for low-grade glioma, you may experience side effects and reactions, such as seizures or the ability to think clearly and remember things. At MSK, we have several therapy options to help you manage these and other problems if they come up.
Sometimes, the tumor itself causes cognitive problems. Radiation therapy, surgery, or chemotherapy can also affect your thinking and memory. Side effects can start during or shortly after treatment, or months or even years later.
Cognitive side effects can be so subtle that not even your loved ones may notice. These changes can include:
- difficulty remembering details
- short attention span
- difficulty concentrating
- difficulty with short-term memory
- difficulty learning new information
- difficulty multitasking
Our neuropsychologists and psychiatrists work closely with your treatment team to help customize a plan of care if you experience cognitive side effects. Treatment can include medications and cognitive rehabilitation.
Seizures are a common symptom of low-grade glioma. Depending on where your tumor is located, seizures may cause temporary problems with consciousness, movement, or speech. Your doctor can usually prescribe antiseizure medication. If you take chemotherapy drugs, your doctor may be able to prescribe antiseizure medicines that reduce the chance of a dangerous drug interaction.
In rare cases, you may have ongoing seizures, even with antiseizure medication. Our neurologists can use an electroencephalogram (EEG) to monitor the electrical activity of your brain waves. EEGs can often be done during a routine visit to your neurologist.
If you experience ongoing seizures, your neurologist may need to continuously monitor your brain waves with an ambulatory EEG. You’ll wear a special brain wave monitor for up to 72 hours. You can go about your day while the device records data.
EEG monitoring may need to be done at MSK in one of our specially equipped rooms. EEGs provide valuable information that our neurologists can use to improve your seizure control. This information may also help our surgeons remove specific brain or tumor tissue that’s responsible for seizures.
Our rehabilitation specialists can help you improve balance and manage pain, coordination, endurance, flexibility, and range of motion. We make these services available to you throughout your treatment and recovery.