Oligodendroglioma and anaplastic oligodendroglioma: clinical features, treatment, and prognosis

Surg Neurol. 2003 Nov;60(5):443-56. doi: 10.1016/s0090-3019(03)00167-8.


Background: Recent advances that have been made in diagnostic imaging, surgical technique, chemotherapy, molecular biology, and prediction of therapeutic response could have potential impact on the optimal diagnosis and treatment of patients with brain tumors, especially those with oligodendrogliomas. In this article, the topic of oligodendroglioma and anaplastic oligodendroglioma is reviewed, highlighting the new clinical developments.

Methods: Information for this review was obtained by performing a Medline search for recent references using the term "oligodendroglioma." The bibliographies of papers obtained also were checked for articles that could provide additional understanding of this disease and its current treatment.

Results: The incidence of oligodendroglioma is increasing, most likely due to its improved recognition. Seizures and/or headaches are still common presenting features, and surgery continues to be the primary treatment. Positron emission tomography (PET) and molecular analysis of the surgical specimen are emerging as important diagnostic tools. Patients having either oligodendroglioma or anaplastic oligodendroglioma are likely to respond to chemotherapy. This has had an impact upon the timing of radiation therapy. Survival times are increasing, and patients can now be divided into prognostic subgroups based on the molecular features of their tumors. While procarbazine-CCNU-vincristine (PCV) chemotherapy has been the standard, other agents, notably temozolomide, are currently being tested.

Conclusions: The algorithm for diagnosing and treating patients with oligodendrogliomas has changed. Neurosurgeons need to be aware of the new developments so they can offer sound advice to their patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Brain Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Brain Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Brain Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Dacarbazine / administration & dosage
  • Dacarbazine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lomustine / administration & dosage
  • Oligodendroglioma* / diagnosis
  • Oligodendroglioma* / epidemiology
  • Oligodendroglioma* / therapy
  • Procarbazine / administration & dosage
  • Prognosis
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Temozolomide
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Vincristine / administration & dosage


  • Procarbazine
  • Vincristine
  • Lomustine
  • Dacarbazine
  • Temozolomide

Supplementary concepts

  • PCV protocol