Glioma is a type of tumor that occurs in the brain and spinal cord. A glioma usually begins in the glial cells, supportive cells that surround nerve cells and help them function.

Three types of glial cells can produce tumors. Gliomas are identified according to the type of glial cell involved.

Types of glioma include:

  • Astrocytomas: astrocytoma, anaplastic astrocytoma and glioblastoma
  • Ependymomas: anaplastic ependymoma, myxopapillary ependymoma and subependymoma
  • Oligodendrogliomas: oligodendroglioma, anaplastic oligodendroglioma and anaplastic oligoastrocytoma

Gliomas are among the most common types of primary brain tumors. They can affect brain function and become life-threatening depending on location and growth rate.

The type of glioma determines the treatment and prognosis. Glioma treatments may include surgery, radiation therapy or targeted therapy.


The symptoms of glioma can vary according to the type of tumor, its size, location and rate of growth.

Common symptoms of glioma include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Memory loss
  • Personality changes or irritability
  • Confusion or a decline in brain function
  • Balance difficulties
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Vision problems (blurred vision, double vision or loss of peripheral vision)
  • Speech difficulties
  • Seizures (especially in people without a history of seizures)

Risk factors

The exact cause of gliomas is unknown. However, the following factors may increase the risk of a brain tumor:

  • Age: The risk of a brain tumor increases with age. Gliomas are most common in adults aged between 60 and 80.
  • Exposure to radiation: Exposure to types of radiation such as ionizing radiation can increase the risk of a brain tumor.
  • Family history: Rare, but a family history of glioma can double to risk of developing it.