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Brainstem Gliomas

A brainstem glioma is a type of tumor in the brain or spinal cord. The tumor can be low-grade or high-grade depending on how abnormal the cells look under the microscope.

About pediatric-type diffuse high-grade brainstem gliomas

DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma) and DMG (Diffuse Midline Glioma) make up about 10% of all brain tumors.

DIPGs are found in the pons or middle area of the brainstem. They are highly aggressive and can grow into other areas of the brainstem.  The diagnosis of DIPG can be based on an MRI alone, because they have a distinctive appearance.

Most DIPG patients survive less than one year. Because this type of tumor is located within the brainstem and cannot be removed, patients are often treated with radiation therapy to help extend their life.

DMGs are high-grade gliomas that invade the midline structures of the brain, including the pons, midbrain, thalamus, and spinal cord. These types of tumors also have a poor chance of recovery and no known cure.

To help extend DMG patients’ lives, doctors will try to cut out as much of the tumor as possible through a procedure called resection. This is often followed by radiation therapy.

Immunotherapy, CAR-T cells, and other targeted therapies hold promise for improving DIPG and DMG prognoses in the future.

About low-grade brainstem gliomas

Low-grade, or focal brainstem gliomas, are contained to one area of the brainstem. They grow more slowly, are unlikely to spread, and have a better chance of recovery.


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