A type of intracranial tumor that is very rare, oligodendrogliomas develop from the oligodendrocytes, a glial cell (one that protects and feeds neurons) that forms a protective coating (a myelin sheath) around nerve cells in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to protect the transmission of information in the peripheral nervous system, which is made up of nerves that carry information to and from the central nervous system and the rest of the body.

While the specific causes of oligodendrogliomas are unknown, simply put tumors are abnormal growths due to unnecessary cell multiplication that serves no proper function in the human body. Typically, cell multiplication is controlled by suppressor genes, which continually act to protect cells from cancer-causing genes known as oncogenes. However, when suppressor genes fail because of changes in their protein coding, tumor can develop as cell division becomes unregulated.

Whereas our body’s built-in defenses find and destroy these abnormal cells, naturally occurring chemicals sometimes hamper the ability of our immune system to see these cells, as which point they become strong enough and exist in large enough numbers to overpower any of body’s defenses.

Symptoms of oligodendrogliomas are variable depending on the location and size of the tumor but often include headaches, nausea, and changes in vision. In severe cases seizures and changes in mood and behavior as well as cognitive difficulties may occur.

After diagnosis, which is attained from a physical examination as well as image testing in the form of CT scans or MRIs, oligodendrogliomas are treated with either surgery to remove the tumor or radiation or chemotherapy to shrink the cells and prevent spreading. And often, all these treatments will be used in tandem for the best possible outcome and long-term recovery of the patient.