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What is Oligodendroglioma?

Oligodendroglioma is a type of glioma, which is a brain tumor that arises from the brain tissue. Oligodendrogliomas most resemble oligodendrocytes, the cells that encircle and insulate the nerve cells of the brain.

Oligodendrogliomas often are more anatomically discrete than astrocytomas, another type of glioma, and they are usually more superficial in the brain. However, oligodendrogliomas are rarely, if ever, cured by surgery alone.

Similar to astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas vary widely in terms of their aggressiveness.

At UPMC, the preferred surgical treatment for a oligodendroglioma is Neuroendoport® surgery. Neuroendoport surgery gives surgeons access to the tumor through a dime-size channel. This minimally invasive approach offers benefits such as:

  • Minimal scarring
  • Fewer side effects and complications
  • Faster recovery times than with traditional surgery

Diagnosing Oligodendroglioma

Like most brain tumors, oligodendrogliomas are diagnosed through imaging studies such as MRI or CT scans.

Symptoms of oligodendroglioma

Your doctor will also ask you about your symptoms. These may include:

  • Headaches/seizures
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness or loss of sensation in the arms and/or legs
  • Speech, vision, or memory problems
  • Personality changes

Oligodendroglioma Treatments

Whenever possible, the tumor is removed surgically. Various methods may be used to treat oligodendrogliomas. These treatments may be used together or individually.


Neuroendoport® surgery offers a minimally invasive treatment option for deep-seated tumors within the substance of the brain or within the ventricles (fluid spaces). A narrow tube or port allows doctors to access tumors through a tiny incision in the scalp, in contrast to traditional brain surgery.

At UPMC, we take a 360° approach to removing brain tumors like oligodendrogliomas. When we evaluate you, we look at your condition from every direction to find the path that is least disruptive to your critical nerves, brain, and your ability to return to normal functioning.

Radiation therapy

Radiation is commonly used to treat brain tumors, either alone or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy.

Radiation therapy may be delivered:

  • Externally by directing radiation at the tumor from an outside source
  • Internally by placing radioactive material directly in the body near the cancer
  • Using stereotactic radiosurgery to deliver a concentrated dose of radiation directly to the brain tumor.


Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells.

Depending on the type and stage of the cancer, chemotherapy may be taken by mouth, injected, or placed directly into the site of the tumor.

Neuroendoport® Surgery
This animation illustrates the removal of a metastasis using the Neuroendoport technique.