Understanding Low Grade Glioma

The brain has two basic types of cells: neurons, which send information, and glial cells, which support and protect neurons. Low grade gliomas are brain tumors that develop from the glial cells of the brain. Low grade means that they are a slower-growing type of glioma.

Low grade gliomas can form in most parts of the brain and rarely in the spinal cord. They can originate from one of several types of glial cells. Low grade gliomas can be further classified by which type of glial cells they originate from, how the tissue appears under the microscope, and the molecular makeup.

The most common low grade gliomas are:

  • Astrocytoma
  • Oligodendroglioma
  • Gangliogliomas

Low Grade vs. High Grade Glioma

Gliomas are divided into two broad categories, low grade and high grade. The World Health Organization (WHO) grading system is on a scale from 1 to 4 based on the level of aggressiveness of the tumor under the microscope as well as the molecular makeup of the tumor itself. Gliomas that are graded as either 1 or 2 are considered low grade, and those graded 3 or 4 are more commonly categorized as high grade gliomas.

Low grade gliomas are slow-growing tumors that often affect younger adults, while high grade gliomas tend to grow more quickly and are more frequent as people age.