Causes and Risk Factors of Oligodendroglioma

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There are no specific, proven causes behind the development of an oligodendroglioma.

Some experts suspect that a chromosome abnormality may play a role in tumor growth. Additionally, experts also point to more general factors—age, family history, and radiation exposure—as potential reasons for the development of an oligodendroglioma.

Moreover, researchers are exploring potential genetic causes, such as missing chromosomes that cause cells to become cancerous and grow into a tumor.

This article will discuss the factors that lead to the development of oligodendrogliomas.

MRI digital x-ray of brain with team radiologist doctor oncology working together in clinic hospital. Medical healthcare concept.

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Common Causes 

What causes oligodendroglioma is currently unknown. Exposure to radiation and gene changes have been linked to a higher risk of developing oligodendrogliomas.


Cancer can be caused by changes to genes that control the way cells function. Genes can mutate (change) throughout the course of your lifetime.

Mutations can cause normal genes to become cancer-causing genes. This abnormal cell can multiply quickly, causing the growth and spread of cancer.

Some mutations are caused by environmental and lifestyle factors, such as exposure to toxins, smoking, and diet. Other mutations seem to occur randomly without a known cause.

In the case of oligodendroglioma, the loss of chromosomes 1p and 19q has been observed in people with this type of tumor. Healthcare providers can use genetic testing to detect a co-deletion (loss) of the 1p/19q chromosomes to help diagnose and choose the best treatment options for oligodendroglial tumors.

Lifestyle Risk Factors 

Some risk factors associated with oligodendroglioma include:

  • Age: Oligodendrogliomas occur most often in people between 35 and 44 years old.
  • Exposure to radiation: Exposure to nuclear weapons, X-rays, and radiation therapy to treat cancer may increase the risk of developing an oligodendroglioma.
  • Family history: In rare instances, a person may be at greater risk when they have an inheritable condition that increases their chance of developing certain brain cancers.

While your lifestyle may not cause you to develop an oligodendroglioma, making healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a healthy diet, avoiding smoking, and getting regular exercise can help you stay strong throughout treatment. Healthy choices benefit your overall health and well-being.


There are no known causes of oligodendroglioma. However, researchers have discovered a connection between the deletion of chromosomes 1p and 19q and oligodendrogliomas. Exposure to significant levels of radiation may also increase the risk of developing oligodendroglioma and other brain tumors. Researchers are continuing to explore potential risk factors for oligodendrogliomas.

A Word From Verywell 

If you’ve been diagnosed with oligodendroglioma, not knowing exactly what caused the tumor can be a frustrating experience. Although experts are unsure of the exact cause of this type of cancer, researchers are continuing to explore potential causes of oligodendrogliomas to develop more effective treatments to improve survival rates.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Cancer Institute. Oligodendroglioma diagnosis and treatment. Updated July 21, 2021.

  2. Gladitz J, Klink B, Seifert M. Network-based analysis of oligodendrogliomas predicts novel cancer gene candidates within the region of the 1p/19q co-deletion. Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2018;6(1):49. doi:10.1186/s40478-018-0544-y

  3. American Cancer Society. Changes in genes. Updated June 25, 2014.

  4. European Society for Medical Oncology. Definition of 1p/19q co-deletion. Updated November 21, 2016.

  5. Iwadate Y, Matsutani T, Hara A, et al. Eighty percent survival rate at 15 years for 1p/19q co-deleted oligodendroglioma treated with upfront chemotherapy irrespective of tumor grade. J Neurooncol. 2019;141(1):205-211. doi:10.1007/s11060-018-03027-5