CHICAGO – Malignant gliomas are high-grade tumors that arise from the glial or “gluey” supportive cells in the brain. Approximately 42,000 primary brain tumors are diagnosed each year, of which 40 percent are malignant gliomas, making them the most commonly treated brain tumor in the United States, according to the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA). Seventy-eight percent of all malignant tumors are gliomas.
U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) has been diagnosed with a malignant glioma in the left parietal lobe of the brain.
“The size of Senator Kennedy’s tumor and the degree of infiltration of the tumor will be determining factors of symptoms, response to treatment, and ultimately, overall prognosis,” said E. Antonio Chiocca, M.D., Ph.D., member of the ABTA Scientific Advisory Council, and professor and chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at The Ohio State University. “The left parietal lobe (one of four lobes in the brain’s cerebral hemisphere) controls speech comprehension, and movement on the opposite side of the body.”
There are different types of gliomas, however, Grade III or IV are malignant gliomas. They are typically high-grade astrocytomas (arising from the star-shaped astrocytes cells which maintain the body’s blood brain barrier, a filter designed to protect the brain from bacteria, viruses, and other potentially dangerous substances) or high-grade oligodendrogliomas (arising from oligodendrocytes, the fried-egg shaped cells that form a covering layer for nerve fibers in the brain).