What is Oligodendroglioma?

An oligodendroglioma is a rare tumor in the brain that may grow slowly or quickly depending on the grade of tumor. An oligodendroglioma can develop in children and adults.

Baptist Health is known for advanced, superior care in diagnosing and treating oligodendrogliomas. Our 24/7 inpatient neurology and neurosurgery services as well as our outpatient and Home Health physical, occupational, cognitive and speech therapy services are available to help treat people with oligodendroglioma. In addition, we have the region’s only comprehensive cancer center, as well as the only advanced 3Tesla MRI, MRI spectroscopy and functional MRI, MRI angiography, CT angiography and conventional cerebral angiography technology to accurately diagnose all manner of cancer and neurologic disease, including oligodendroglioma. 

You will appreciate timely appointments and a professional, friendly atmosphere where we take time to listen to your concerns. At Baptist Health, you have access to the region’s most comprehensive, multidisciplinary team of specialists and innovative therapies, including many available only through specialized clinical trials. In every way, we work to demonstrate the utmost in excellent care to those who trust us with their health.

Signs and Symptoms

Oligodendroglioma symptoms may go unnoticed for a time. In general, signs and symptoms of an oligodendroglioma vary by type, size and location and may include:

  • Balance problems
  • Confusion 
  • Headache
  • Incontinence
  • Irritability
  • Loss of memory
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Personality changes
  • Seizures 
  • Speech problems
  • Vision problems that include blurred or double vision and loss of peripheral vision
  • Weakness on one side of the body


To determine if someone has an oligodendroglioma, we use advanced diagnostic procedures and technology to effectively diagnose, inform treatment and carefully monitor the condition. Diagnostic procedures can include:

Biopsy: Depending on the location of the oligodendroglioma, a neurosurgeon may use a fine needle to draw out a small amount of tissue. It will be examined under a microscope to determine whether the tumor is cancerous. 

Imaging tests: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) helps to locate and determine the size of an oligodendroglioma. If needed, dye is injected through a vein to create contrast for viewing differences in the brain. Other imaging studies may include a computerized tomography (CT) scan or a positron emission tomography (PET) scan.

Stereotactic needle biopsy: If an oligodendroglioma is difficult to reach or located in a sensitive area, this procedure may be needed for a definite diagnosis. A surgeon will drill a small hole in the skull and use computer images to insert and guide a thin needle to remove a small amount of tumor tissue. The tissue, studied under a microscope, will help determine the type of tumor and treatment needed.


The cause of oligodendrogliomas is unknown.

Risk Factors

Risk factors that may contribute to oligodendrogliomas include:

Age: Oligodendrogliomas can develop at any age, but are most common in young adults 26 to 46 years old.

Family history: Oligodendrogliomas rarely run in families, but if there is a family history of them, the risk doubles for developing one.

Gender: Oligodendrogliomas occur in men more often than women. 


There is no known way to prevent oligodendrogliomas.


The prognosis for an oligodendroglioma depends on its type, stage and location. An early diagnosis and treatment may provide the best outcome for a person with an oligodendroglioma.

Treatment and Recovery

Treatment of an oligodendroglioma depends upon its type, size and location as well as the health and age of the person. Treatment may include:


Corticosteroids may be prescribed to relieve swelling and pressure on the brain, and anti-epileptic medication may be prescribed to control seizures.

Radiation Therapy

This treatment may be needed after an oligodendroglioma is removed. During this treatment, high-energy radiation is directed specifically to the site of the tumor to kill tumor cells. 


Chemotherapy uses special drugs designed to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be administered as a pill or injected into the bloodstream and may be given before surgery to shrink a tumor, after surgery to kill remaining cancer cells and as a means of reducing symptoms.

Surgical Procedures

Surgery is used to remove or reduce as much of the tumor as possible. When all of the tumor cannot be removed, stereotactic radiosurgery may be prescribed. During this procedure, the neurosurgeon can direct radiation beams in a high dose precisely on the tumor to kill the cells.

Recovery After Surgery

Physical, speech or occupational therapy may be needed if the oligodendroglioma affected certain areas of the brain. Follow lifestyle guidelines to aid recovery:

  • Eat healthy foods and if a child has trouble eating, get help from a dietitian
  • Exercise gently when the physician allows it
  • Quit smoking
  • Get emotional support from friends, family or a support group
  • Go to follow-up visits


An oligodendroglioma can cause complications including:

  • Developmental delays in children
  • Difficulties with movement, speech or vision
  • Recurrence after successful treatment 
  • Weakness

Next Steps with MyChart

Discover MyChart, a free patient portal that combines your Baptist Health medical records into one location. Schedule appointments, review lab results, financials, and more! If you have questions, give us a call.