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Laaggradige gliomen

Low-grade gliomas are tumors that occur in the brain or the spinal cord. Every year, approximately 40 children in the Netherlands are diagnosed with a low-grade glioma. The tumor occurs in children of all ages. The tumor can sometimes spread to other parts of the central nervous system.

The brochure entitled Low-grade glioma contains comprehensive information about this disease. The most important information is provided below.

Causes

Gliomas are caused by a developmental error in a (progenitor) cell of the supporting cells. Probably something is changed in the DNA in the nucleus of the cell. The cause of that change is unknown. Some children have neurofibromatosis, a condition that can cause tumors to develop in the nervous system.

Symptoms

A low-grade glioma in the cerebellum or a ventricle initially produces vague symptoms such as nausea and headaches. Due to the increased pressure in the brain, symptoms such as vomiting, crossed eyes, double vision, impaired motor skills and balance problems occur at a later point in time. A tumor in the brainstem causes a strange feeling in the arms or legs, difficulty swallowing and speaking, difficulty writing and difficulty regulating body temperature. A tumor in the cerebrum can cause epilepsy or hormone disorders.

How are low-grade gliomas diagnosed?

An MRI scan is performed and cerebrospinal fluid is drawn under sedation. In some instances, this is followed by a CT scan.

Treatment

Children with low-grade glioma are treated according to a protocol drawn up by national and international experts. Treatment can consist of surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and/or radiotherapy. Most children undergo surgery first. If the glioma can be removed completely, your child will receive no further treatment, but will be checked regularly. In many instances, if none or only some of the low-grade glioma can be removed, a wait-and-see approach can be taken. This often applies to a tumor of the optic nerve(s) and/or neurofibromatosis. Your child is then closely monitored, undergoes regular MRI scans and gets regular eye check-ups. The brain tumor working group, comprising all the specialists involved, carefully considers what is best for your child: wait and see or more treatment. If follow-up treatment is required, it is usually chemotherapy.

Chance of recovery

Children with a low-grade glioma stand a 90% chance of recovery, if the tumor can be completely removed. Some children are left with a tumor remnant. If this remnant starts to grow or if the tumor recurs or spreads, the chance of recovery is 50–80%. Don't be influenced too much by statistics. Every child and every situation is unique.

Questions?

Children and adolescents with a low-grade glioma are treated in the neuro-oncology department.