Glioma

At Tufts Medical Center in downtown Boston, MA our top-rated physicians have strong expertise in providing innovative treatments for patients with brain tumors. In fact, we are the only hospital in Massachusetts to offer Gamma Knife therapy.

Gliomas are the most common type of brain tumor in adults, responsible for about 42% of all adult brain tumors. Gliomas are further characterized by the types of cells they affect:

Astrocytoma:
Star-shaped cells that protect and support neurons. Tumors of these cells can spread from the primary site to other areas of the brain, but rarely spread outside the central nervous system. Astrocytomas are graded from I to IV depending on the speed of progression:

Grade I (pilocytic astrocytoma): Slow growing tumor, with little tendency to infiltrate surrounding brain tissue and most common in children and adolescents.

Grade II (diffuse astrocytoma): Fairly slow-growing tumor, with some tendency to infiltrate surrounding brain tissue and mostly seen in young adults.

Grade III (anaplastic astrocytoma): These tumors grow rather quickly and infiltrate surrounding brain tissue.

Grade IV (glioblastoma multiform, GBM): This is an extremely aggressive and lethal form of brain cancer. Unfortunately, it is the most common form of brain tumor in adults, accounting for 67% of all astrocytomas.

Oligodendroglioma: These cells make myelin, a fatty substance that forms a protective sheath around nerve cells. Oligodendrogliomas, which make up 4% of brain tumors, mostly affect people over 45 years of age. Some subtypes of this tumor are particularly sensitive to treatment with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Half of patients with oligodendrogliomas are still alive after five years.

Ependymoma: These tumors affect ependymal cells, which line the pathways that carry cerebrospinal fluid throughout the brain and spinal cord. Ependymomas are rare and make up 2% of all brain tumors; however they are the most common brain tumor in children. They generally don’t affect healthy brain tissue and don’t spread beyond the ependyma. Although these tumors respond well to surgery, particularly those on the spine, ependymomas cannot always be completely removed. The five-year survival rate for patients over age 45 approaches 70%.

Programs + Services


Brain Tumor Center

Our Team of brain tumor specialists diagnose and treat all types of brain tumors. Learn more about the most advanced techniques used at Tufts Medical Center.
More information about programs and services

Doctors + Care Team

Carl B. Heilman, MD

Carl B. Heilman, MD

Accepting New Patients

Title(s): Neurosurgeon-in-Chief; Chairman of Neurosurgery; Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Neurosurgery
Appt. Phone: 617-636-5860
Fax #: 617-636-7587

Meningiomas, acoustic neuromas, skull base surgery, pituitary surgery, Chiari surgery

View Full Profile for Carl B. Heilman, MD

John E. Mignano, MD, PhD

John E. Mignano, MD, PhD

Title(s): Radiation Oncologist; Clinic Director; Associate Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Radiation Oncology, Pediatric Radiation Oncology
Appt. Phone: 617-636-6161
Fax #: 617-636-4513

Oncologic consultation for general radiotherapy and Gamma Knife, pediatric radiation oncology

View Full Profile for John E. Mignano, MD, PhD

Julian K. Wu, MD

Julian K. Wu, MD

Accepting New Patients

Title(s): Associate Chairman, Neurosurgery; Chief, Neurosurgical Oncology; Neurosurgery Residency Program Director; Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
Department(s): Neurosurgery
Appt. Phone: 617-636-4500
Fax #: 617-636-7587

Neuro-oncology, Gamma Knife radiosurgery, meningiomas, pituitary tumors, gliomas, brain metastasis, trigeminal neuralgia

View Full Profile for Julian K. Wu, MD