Treatment of Gliomas – Tumors of the Central Nervous System

Glioma, vintage engraved

Gliomas are some of the most common tumors in the central nervous system. Gliomas develop from glial cells, which are cells that support and envelop nerve cells in the brain and spine. Gliomas may be benign or malignant, and pose different levels of danger, and they can develop in various regions such as the ventricles of the brain or in the brain stem.

The development of a glioma in the brain has many implications for the affected patient, some of which are life-threatening. They therefore usually require surgical intervention for removal. At the Neurosurgical Center for Excellence at the Herzliya Medical Center, there are internationally renowned specialists in the treatment of brain tumors, including the treatment of various types of gliomas.

Gliomas: Characteristics and Health-Related Implications

Gliomas develop from glial cells (which derive their name from the word “glue” because they are essentially “glued” to the nerve cells) and therefore they can appear in a variety of different areas in the brain and along the spinal cord. There are a number of types of gliomas, classified according to their characteristics and the areas in which they appear:

  • Astrocytomas are the most common type of glioma, and are divided into three different grades based on their severity: astrocytomas are low-grade gliomas, anaplastic astrocytomas are intermediate grade tumors and glioblastoma multiforme is ranked at the highest grade.
  • Oligodendrogliomas are gliomas that develop from the fatty layer that encases the nerve (oligodendrocyte cells). These tumors can be divided into two types: low grade malignancy, which tend to develop slowly, and intermediate grade malignancy, which develop relatively quickly. Oligodendrogliomas that are undefined usually have the highest grade of malignancy.
  • Ependymomas are considered to be relatively rare gliomas and they originate in the ependymal cells of the brain ventricles and the spinal canal. These tumors tend to develop in the brain ventricles themselves and they typically have a low grade malignancy.
  • Mixed gliomas are tumors that have developed from two types of glial cells – usually a mix of astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. These tumors are graded based on their characteristics.

Gliomas, as mentioned, are considered to be relatively common tumors in the central nervous system and are particularly common in the brain. They make up more than 50% of all primary brain tumors (which are brain tumors that developed from cells in the brain itself).

Gliomas are classified into different grades of malignancy and some are even benign, but that does not mean that they are not dangerous. Their development within the brain, a particularly sensitive organ, can be a risk in and of itself and can result in the appearance of a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Coordination disturbances
  • Difficulty walking
  • Changes in mental status
  • Weakness on one side of the body that can be so severe as to result in paralysis.

The appearance of various symptoms depends upon, among other things, the location at which the tumor develops and the grade of its malignancy – two characteristics that are crucial when deciding upon the proper treatment plan. In most cases, surgery to remove the glioma will be decided upon, and sometimes the treatment will also involve chemotherapy or radiation.

At the Herzliya Medical Center, leading surgeons in the field will provide you with a precise diagnosis and offer you the best treatment, under the best of conditions. The hospital’s team of physicians includes leading neurosurgeons such as Prof. Zvi Ram, Prof. Moshe Hadani, Dr. Zion Zibli and Dr. Sagi Harnof. Each and every one of them has a professional and experienced surgical staff including nurses and medical technicians with years of experience.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Gliomas

When a doctor suspects the development of a glioma in the brain, a rapid but thorough diagnosis will be performed at the hospital, the goal of which is to locate the tumor and assess its characteristics. For this purpose, advanced imaging techniques, which usually include a head CT or MRI, will be performed at Herzliya Medical Center’s advanced Imaging Institute.

After proper diagnosis, the medical team, lead by the neurosurgeon, can decide upon the most appropriate treatment option for each particular case. As mentioned previously, in most cases, surgery to remove the tumor is the option of choice. You will be able to select the surgeon yourself, as well the date on which the operation is scheduled.

When performing the operation, the surgical team aspires to remove the entire tumor. If this is not possible due to the location of the tumor, the most extensive removal possible will be performed, which not infrequently requires a craniotomy, via an opening in the skull. Either way, at the end of the operation, a sample of the tumor will be sent for laboratory testing and within just a few days, the medical team will be able to know the tumor’s grade of malignancy – information that will often affect the treatment choices later on.
An operation for the removal of a glioma usually takes a few hours, depending on the complexity of the procedure. These operations are performed under general anesthesia, and require a relatively long recovery time.

The Herzliya Medical Center team, headed by the surgeon, will be at your disposal throughout the entire process and will be with you and monitor the rate of your recovery from the operation. You will also be asked to come back to the hospital for follow-up visits in order to ensure that the procedure was a success.

Do you suffer from prolonged headaches or one or more of the symptoms mentioned above?

Are you in need of professional consultation and diagnosis?

Contact us today at the Neurosurgical Center for Excellence at the Herzliya Medical Center to receive treatment and conditions at the highest international level.