Gliomas are primary brain tumours that arise within the cells of the brain. These tumours can have various levels of aggressive behaviour. 

Depending on the characteristics of the cells, gliomas have either a low-grade classification or high-grade classification. The glioma classification definition depends on the rate at which they grow. It also dictates the options of treatment and the outcome for the patient.

There are three types of gliomas:


When glioma (tumour) originates from astrocytes, it is called astrocytoma or glioblastoma.


When tumour originates from oligodendrocytes, it is called oligodendroglioma.


When tumour originates from ependymal cells, it is called ependymomas.

Glioma Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of any glial tumour depend on a few factors. These include:

  • The location of the tumour
  • How fast it’s growing
  • The size of the tumour
  • Whether it is causing any obstruction to the fluid circulation in the brain

Generally, vast majority of glioma brain tumours present with headache. Other symptoms include a change in behaviour, seizures, visual disturbances or difficulty in speech or use of language. The presenting symptoms are usually reflective of size and location of the tumour.


Causes of Gliomas

The exact causes of glioma yet not known, however, there are multiple factors which can increase the risk of Glioma. Glioma is most likely to be seen in males. 

Risk factor of gliomas

Factors that increase the risk of Glioma brain tumour include:

  • Radiation exposure: People exposed to ionizing radiation are at an increased risk of glioma (brain tumour). This type of radiation is used in chemotherapy to treat cancers.
  • Mobile phone: Using a mobile can also increase the risk of gliomas, though this is not clinically confirmed. Some studies provide some evidence regarding the linkage of cell phone usage and brain tumour.
  • Age: Though glioma can occur at any age, it is most prevalent in people between the age of 45 to 65 years.
  • Gender: The disease is more prevalent in men than in women.
  • Genetics: Glioma can also be hereditary. Family history can also be the reason of occurrence of the condition.
  • N-nitroso compounds: Some clinical research studies highlight that N-nitroso compounds increase the risk of brain tumour or a Glioma. This compound is formed from nitrates which are found in meat, cigarette etc.

Diagnosis of gliomas

The diagnosis of a brain tumour usually involves performing a detailed neurological examination. It is important to understand that not all headaches are suggestive of a brain tumour. Patients should avoid making self-diagnosis. 

The gold standard test for diagnosing gliomas is to perform an MRI scan with the dedicated tumour protocol. This involves a microscopic evaluation of biopsied abnormal brain tissue. A general practitioner or your treating specialist will organise this.

Glioma Treatment

Following a definitive diagnosis of a glioma tumour, the patient does need operative intervention. The options for surgery depend on the location, size and complexity of the tumour. A partial or open surgery can be performed to remove the tumour. A doctor may prescribe drugs containing steroids to reduce the swelling in the affected areas of the brain. 


Surgery is  less complicated if the tumour is located in the less eloquent part of the brain. These days, multiple innovative surgical options such as such as computer-assisted brain surgery, intra0-operative brain surgery, and awake brain surgery, are utilised to try and make the surgery minimally invasive.

Radiation therapy

High-grade gliomas is generally treated through radiation. Radiation kills the brain tumour cells. There are many ways through which we impart radiation therapy to the patients. We utilise computer assisted and guided radiation techniques to pinpoint treatment delivery. Other methods we employ include the use of protons, multiple beams of radiation to make the treatment more effective.


Chemotherapy can be used to kill tumour cells. Chemotherapy is generally done in combination with radiation to treat tumour cells.

Frequently asked questions

Should I be concerned if I am having headaches?

While a headache is a common symptom, only a small proportion of headaches are suggestive of brain tumours. It is important not to self-diagnose symptoms. If you are concerned, seek assistance from your general practitioner who can provide you with a proper medical opinion.

What tests diagnose and confirm a brain tumour?

The gold standard test that provides the most information to make a diagnosis is a specific protocol of MRI scan. To understand the specific characteristics of the brain tumour, it is necessary to test the abnormal brain tissue. A pathologist will test the tissue under a microscope.

Will I need more treatment after having brain surgery?

There may be further treatment requirements after surgery. This can include chemotherapy or radiotherapy or a combination of both. The results of the pathology tests will inform the next course of action. We will discuss further treatment with you and will organise the involvement of an oncology specialist if needed.

Are brain operations safe?

Any operation on the brain is a major surgery. The team at Neuroaxis have extensive experience to provide you with access to the best possible care. We use state of the art technology to ensure that the operation is carried out in the safest manner. The current standard of treatment for this, would at least, include the use of a surgical navigation system. This allows us to accurately locate the tumour during surgery. The technology minimises the chance of any damage to normal brain tissue. 

Will I have access to the latest treatment modalities and the  possibility to enrol in clinical trials?

Once we have a definitive pathological diagnosis, we will discuss the next steps with a neuro-oncology specialist. Depending on the specifics of your case, we may set up a multiple-disciplinary meeting with you to discuss your condition. The adjuvant treatment options are usually based on currently available evidence-based medical practices. Your oncology specialist will discuss the option of an enrolment into a clinical trial if indicated.