Brain Stem Glioma

Brain Stem Glioma

Brain stem glioma is a type of tumor that involves the central nervous system—the brain and spinal cord. Brain stem gliomas begin when healthy brain cells change, growing uncontrollably and forming a tumor. A tumor can be benign or cancerous. A cancerous tumor is malignant and has the potential to grow and spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor can grow but will not spread to other parts of the body. A glioma grows from glial cells, which are the brain’s supportive cells.

By the time a brain stem glioma is diagnosed, it is most often diffuse, meaning it has spread through the brain stem. A brain stem glioma is typically very aggressive; it grows fast and spreads quickly. A small percentage of brain stem tumors are very localized and are called focal tumors. Focal tumors are less likely to grow and spread quickly.

Brain stem gliomas occur most often in children between the ages of five and ten years old. Most brain stem tumors develop in the pons. They then expand throughout the brain stem, where it can be difficult to perform surgery. This makes a brain stem glioma challenging to treat.

Brain Stem Glioma Symptoms in Children

Children with a brain stem glioma may experience the following:

  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing food
  • Difficulty talking
  • Double vision or not being able to close the eyelids
  • Drooping of the face
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness in the arms and legs, clumsiness or wobbliness, and difficulty walking

Brain Stem Glioma Symptoms in Adults

Adults with a brain stem glioma may experience the following:

  • Changes in ability to think and learn
  • Changes in mood and personality
  • Frequent headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting

Getting Diagnosed

Our team of specialists provides the most up-to-date evaluations using the latest diagnostic and imaging technology.

We work very closely with the departments of Neurosurgery, Interventional Neuroradiology, Neurology and Radiation Oncology, as well as the Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Center and Skull Base Center to ensure an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate treatment for the best outcome.


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The Neuroscience Institute

We are dedicated to the world-class diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases and disorders.