What is a ganglioglioma?

A ganglioglioma is low-grade tumor of mixed cell type. It is very rare and contains properties of both glial cells — responsible for providing the structural support of the central nervous system, and neuronal cells — the functioning component of the central nervous system. Gangliogliomas usually occur in the part of the brain that controls motor, sensory and higher mental function, called the cerebrum, but can occur in any part of the brain or spinal cord. In rare cases, ganglioglioma may transform into a higher grade, more malignant tumor. Children with certain genetic syndromes, including neurofibromatosis 1 and tuberous sclerosis, are at higher risk of developing glial tumors, including gangliogliomas; however, most of these tumors develop spontaneously.

What are the symptoms of ganglioglioma?

Since gangliogliomas grow relatively slowly, a child may have been having symptoms for many months prior to diagnosis, or symptoms may appear more suddenly. Many children with gangliogliomas first present with seizures. Other symptoms are associated with increased pressure in the brain, including:

  • headache — generally upon awakening in the morning
  • nausea and vomiting – often worse in the morning and improving throughout the day
  • fatigue
  • weakness on one side of the body

Ganglioglioma symptoms may resemble those of other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

How we care for ganglioglioma

Children and adolescents with ganglioglioma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through the Brain Tumor Center, one of the largest and most experienced pediatric brain tumor treatment programs in the world. Our brain tumor specialists have extensive expertise in treating all types of brain tumors, including ganglioglioma. Our patients receive care from neuro-oncologists, neurosurgeons, neurologists, and pediatric subspecialists.