Oligodendroglioma Brain Cancer


Oligodendroglioma brain cancer is a rare, slow growing tumor that initially consists of oligodendrocytes, which are cells that cover and protect the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Because of their generally slow growth, oligodendrogliomas often are present for years before they are diagnosed. These tumors can be found anywhere within the cerebral hemisphere of the brain. They rarely metastasize outside of the nervous system.

General Information

Oligodendrogliomas are generally soft, grayish-pink tumors. They often contain mineral deposits (calcifications), areas of hemorrhage, and/or cysts. Under the microscope, these tumor cells appear to have “short arms,” or a fried-egg shape.

The exact cause of oligodendroglioma brain tumors is unknown. However, scientists have identified chromosomal abnormalities, which may play a role in the development of these tumors. Some studies have linked oligodendroglioma with a viral cause.

About 4% of primary brain tumors are oligodendrogliomas, representing about 10-15% of the gliomas. Only 6% of these tumors are found in infants and children. Most oligodendrogliomas occur in adults ages 40-50, and are found in men more often than women

In 50-80 percent of cases, the first symptom of an oligodendroglioma is the onset of seizure activity. Headaches, combined with increased intracranial pressure, also are a common symptom. Depending on the location of the tumor, any neurological deficit can be induced, from visual loss, motor weakness, and cognitive decline. Tumors of the frontal lobe may cause weakness on one side of the body, personality or behavior changes, and difficulty with short-term memory. Temporal lobe tumors are usually “silent,” causing few symptoms other than perhaps seizures or language problems.

Oligodendrogliomas are diagnosed using CT or MRI scans. A brain biopsy is necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

Oligodendrogliomas have a very high rate of recurrence and gradually increase in grade over time. Recurrent tumors are generally treated with more aggressive chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Recently, stereotactic surgery has proven successful in treating small tumors that have been diagnosed early. Long-term survival is reported in a minority of patients

SSA POMS: DI 23022.246 Oligodendroglioma Brain Tumor – Grade III

Oligodendroglioma brain tumor (grade III) meets Social Security Administration Medical Listings 13.13-A1 and 113.13 upon confirmed diagnosis, regardless of the effectiveness of treatment. It also is listed under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Compassionate Allowance Program, which was launched in 2008 to expedite certain disability claims.

Applying for disability benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Program requires the same procedure every applicant must follow when applying for SSA disability benefits; however, you will be notified if your condition is being considered as a compassionate allowance.

Your representative may be able to help expedite your disability claim if you have a diagnosis of oligodendroglioma brain cancer.