What is astrocytoma?

Astrocytoma is a malignant brain tumor that arises from astrocytes. This type of tumor is "graded I to IV" based on how normal or abnormal the cells look. Low-grade astrocytomas are usually slow-growing and localized, while high-grade astrocytomas grow at a rapid pace and require different treatment. Most astrocytomas found in adults are high-grade, and most found in children are low-grade. They typically appear in the largest part of the brain, the cerebellum, but they can appear in other parts of the brain and nervous system; this includes the cerebrum, brainstem and spinal cord.

What causes an astrocytoma?

Astrocytomas arise from astrocytes, star-shaped glial cells of the central nervous system. Tumors can spread to the brain from other parts of the body.

Astrocytoma symptoms include:

  • Seizures
  • Headaches
  • Speech difficulty
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in behavior and personality

Astrocytoma treatments

The astrocytoma treatment options include:

  • Surgery—This is generally the primary option used for removing a malignant tumor with a goal of removing as much of the tumor as possible without damaging normal brain tissue.
  • Radiation—This is used for killing off tumor cells and limiting the growth of the tumor.
  • Chemotherapy—This involves the use of medications that stop the growth of the tumor and can be given orally, through an IV or placed at the site of your tumor through a shunt.