Care of Adult Glioma Brain Tumor Patients
This handout is about brain tumors. Your
American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA)
Booklet will give you more details.
Please bring the booklet with you to
your first post-surgery clinic visits.
What is a glioma?
Glioma is a general term to describe the
tumor. Three types of glial cells can produce
ξ Astrocytes (which produce
ξ Oligodendrocytes (which produce
ξ Ependymal cells (which produce
Sometimes, the tumor is made up of both
astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. These
tumors are called mixed gliomas, or can also
be called oligoastrocytomas.
How are tumors graded?
ξ Low-grade (benign, slow-growing or
ξ High-grade (malignant, fast-growing
These terms are misleading. Slow-growing
or “benign” tumors are dangerous because
they push on the brain or destroy brain tissue
and may return.
Brain tumors are graded based on two
criteria: what is seen under the microscope
and the results of special tests called
A pathologist is a scientist who studies the
cells of the tumor and how diseases affect
the body. Under the microscope the
pathologist looks at:
ξ How normal or not normal the cells
ξ How fast the cells are growing or
ξ Are there areas of dead tumor cells
inside the tumor (necrosis)
ξ Is the tumor invading normal tissue
ξ Is the tumor creating a blood supply
Based on the tumors’ traits, tumors are then
divided into one of four grades.
ξ Grade 1 and Grade 2 are mostly
benign or slow growing
ξ Grade 3 and Grade 4 are malignant
Once the pathologist reviews the tumor, a
part of the tumor is sent to a special lab for
testing. The testing is called “molecular
markers.” It takes about three weeks to get
these results back. The results will be shared
with you once the results have been sent to
Where is my tumor and how will it affect me?
ξ Ability to move
ξ How to reason
ξ How to reason
ξ Telling right from left
ξ Fine muscle control (writing)
ξ Blood pressure
ξ How to swallow food, drink
ξ Reading words and to know what
What is the cause of a glioma?
Although causes are being studied, the
reason a person develops a brain tumor is
not known. But if you’ve received radiation
to your brain in the past, you have a higher
risk of a brain tumor growing.
Can I expect my symptoms to resolve?
Symptoms may improve over time. At your
follow up visit, ask your doctor if your
symptoms will “get better” and how long it
When will I know the pathology of my
Pathology of a tumor consists of the type of
tumor and grade of the tumor.
It often takes 3-5 days to get the final
pathology results. If you do not know the
results when you leave the hospital, you will
receive a call with the results within one
week after discharge.
When the doctor’s office calls with the
pathology results, they will refer you to a
booklet. The booklet is called the American
Brain Tumor Association (ABTA) booklet
“About Brain Tumors.” This booklet has
more information about your brain tumor.
You will be given this booklet before you
are sent home. You can also visit their
website for additional support and resources:
What type of treatment will I have after
There are three main treatment options for
Treatment or combination of treatments
ξ Type of tumor
ξ “Grade” of the tumor
ξ Tumor location
ξ How much could be removed
ξ Molecular marker results
When you are discharged home you will
have three appointments set up.
ξ Follow up with Neurosurgeon/Nurse
ξ Consult with Radiation Oncologist
ξ Consult with Neuro-Oncologist
Please bring your ABTA Booklet
with you to these appointments.
1. Follow up with Neurosurgeon/Nurse
Practitioner- this will be your first post-
operative check. Your incision will be
inspected and most likely the sutures
will be removed at this time. This occurs
about 2 weeks after surgery.
2. Consult with Radiation Oncology-
You may or may not need this
appointment. The appointment will
depend on the pathology results. When
the neurosurgery office calls you with
the pathology results, they will tell you if
this appointment is needed.
We find it’s easier to make these
appointments right away and cancel
them if they are not needed. By doing
this we do not delay the treatment
process if your tumor type requires
radiation. This appointment will also
occur about 2 weeks after surgery. It
may seem like seeing the doctor “right
away” is best. But your body needs time
to heal. Studies have shown that starting
the radiation too soon after surgery can
If you will need radiation, the radiation
oncologist will discuss this with you.
They will discuss the treatment, side
effects and next steps. At the end of this
visit, the radiation oncologist will
schedule you for a planning CT (CAT
At this scan, they will be making a
special mask for you to wear. The mask
will hold you in place for the treatment.
Often you will also need to do another
MRI scan prior to starting radiation. The
radiation oncologist will make this
decision. If you will receive radiation,
you will be given another handout that
explains it in greater detail.
3. Consult with Neuro-Oncologist- This
visit will be scheduled on the same day
as the radiation oncologist visit (about 2
weeks after surgery). If the results of
your molecular tests are not back, this
visit will be changed to a later date. Not
all gliomas need chemotherapy.
The molecular markers test results will
be reviewed by the neuro-oncologist.
The neuro-oncologist will discuss
chemotherapy options and side effects
If you are eligible for a clinical trial, this
will also be discussed with you at this
What to expect when I go home
Please refer to HFFY 4452: Going Home after your Craniotomy.
Please follow the instructions in your discharge packet for incision care.
When to Call the Doctor
Signs of Incision infection
ξ Increased redness or swelling along or around incision
ξ Drainage from incision
ξ Increase in pain
ξ Fever greater than 100.5°F
ξ Neck stiffness
Signs of brain swelling or brain edema
ξ Increasing or severe headaches that are not relieved by Tylenol
ξ Headaches that occur daily or several times a day, even if relieved by Tylenol
ξ Headaches with nausea and vomiting
ξ Nausea or vomiting
ξ Any change in strength or sensation (numbness or tingling)
ξ Clumsiness or coordination problems of your hand or leg
ξ Vision, hearing or speech changes or problems
ξ Balance or walking problems or dizziness
ξ Personality or behavioral changes
ξ If you become confused and you have not been before
ξ New seizures or seizures that are getting worse
After I leave the hospital, whom do I call if I have questions?
Once you leave the hospital, you can contact the Neurosurgery Clinic if you have any questions.
The questions can be about your incision, if you have any signs of infection or have any other
Neurosurgery Clinic: 608-263-7502
Where can I go for more information or support?
American Brain Tumor Association
8550 W Bryn Mawr Ave Suite 550
Chicago, IL 60631
1-800-886-2282 (patient line)
National Brain Tumor Society
55 Chapel Street, Suite 200
Newton MA 02458
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
NIH Neurological Institute
P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
Madison Area Brain Tumor Support Group
The goal of this support group is to share common experiences in an effort to provide support
and education. These meetings are meant to be informal. They are also confidential. Meetings
are not meant to endorse or suggest certain treatments, institutions, or protocols.
Meetings are held monthly (third Tuesday of the month).
Brain tumor survivors, their families or support persons are all welcome to come.
For the meeting time and place, contact:
Letty Geanon, NP: (608) 263-5227
Lori Hayes, CNS: (608) 265-1192
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor.
This is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because
each person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team
when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 7/2016 University of
Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6268