May also be called: Pontine Glioma, Diffuse Pontine Glioma
A brain stem glioma (glee-OH-muh) is any tumor
that forms in a part of the brain stem.
More to Know
The brain stem, located deep in the back of the brain,
is made up of three parts: the midbrain, pons, and medulla. These parts coordinate
all of the brain's messages. They also control many of the body's autonomic functions
(processes we almost never think about controlling, like breathing, digestion, sweating,
and shivering). A tumor that develops in any area of the brain stem is called a brain
Symptoms of a pontine glioma (a tumor in the pons) may come on
suddenly and get worse quickly. They may include:
turning in of one eyeball
drooping of the eyelid or one side of the face
trouble speaking and walking
Midbrain tumors may cause similar eye problems, along with headaches
and vomiting. This is due to increased pressure in the head from a blockage of cerebrospinal
fluid. Cerebrospinal fluid surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord.
Tumors of the medulla may cause swallowing problems and limb
Surgeons usually can't operate on the brain stem, so health care professionals
mostly treat brain stem gliomas with radiation
therapy and chemotherapy.
Pontine gliomas are the most common but are often the most difficult to treat. Tumors
in the midbrain and medulla are less common but usually more easily treated.
Keep in Mind
With better treatments becoming available all the time, the outlook for kids with
pontine gliomas is improving, but it still isn’t very good. However, most midbrain
tumors and tumors of the medulla are curable with radiation therapy.
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