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GLIOMA: AN INTRODUCTION

The term "GLIOMA" refers to a "family" of tumors, which arise from cells known as "GLIAL CELLS". This series of cells comprises the "glue" cells of the Central Nervous System (CNS), in contradistinction to the "Neurons", which are the "action" cells of the Brain and Spinal Cord. Glial cells are the most common cellular component of the Brain. They are five to ten times more frequent than the trillion Brain neurons and comprise half the Central Nervous System (CNS) by volume.

There are three (3) different cell types in this cell series. The "Astrocyte" was so named, because it resembles the shape of a star, when looked at under a microscope. The next most common cell in this series is the "Ependymal Cell", which lines the cavities of the Brain (called Ventricles). These are normal chambers within the Brain, where Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) is manufactured. These cells are also found within the Central Canal (a small cavity) within the Spinal Cord. The last cell type is the "Oligodendrgogliocyte" (Oligo), which is the cell within the Brain and Spinal Cord responsible for making the insulating material (called Myelin), that surrounds the fibres (axons) which transmit electrical impulses within the Brain and Spinal Cord.

Each of these cell types is capable of forming a tumor. The Neurosurgeons of Neurosurgical Consultants regard ALL OF THESE AS MALIGNANT TUMORS. The degree of malignancy, and therefore, biological aggressiveness can vary from quite indolent to extremely aggressive. These tumors are generally categorized according to their degree of aggressiveness, as judged by a number of factors. Neuropathologists (specialists trained to examine these tumors under powerful microscopes), have tended to "grade" these tumors from 1 to 4, with "4" being the most aggressive and "1" being the least malignant.

ALL OF THESE TUMORS HAVE A TENDENCY TO "INFILTRATE" WITHIN THE BRAIN AND/OR SPINAL CORD BY TRACKING ALONG FIBRE PATHWAYS THAT INTERCONNECT EVERY PART TO EVERY OTHER PART OF THE BRAIN. VERY RARELY DO THESE TUMORS EVER SPREAD BEYOND THE SUBSTANCE OF THE BRAIN OR SPINAL CORD.


This page last edited on 2/22

All content ©2016 by Neurosurgical Consultants, P.A.
Author, Martin L. Lazar, MD, FACS
All Rights Reserved. See Usage Notices.