What is the definition of Astrocytoma?
Astrocytoma is a type of tumor that can occur in the brain or spinal cord. It originates from star-shaped cells called astrocytes that regulate electrical impulses in the brain. Astrocytomas are the most common form of glioma.
Astrocytomas are classified into four different grades based on how aggressive the cancer is.
Grade 1 astrocytomas are the least aggressive. These tumors can be benign or slow-growing and are generally associated with long-term survival. This grade includes subependymomas and pilocytic astrocytomas.
Grade 2 astrocytomas are slow-growing tumors that may eventually develop into larger or more aggressive tumors.
Grade 3 astrocytomas are anaplastic (malignant) tumors. These grow more quickly than Grade 2.
Grade 4 astrocytomas include glioblastoma multiforme, which is the most common primary brain tumor. Glioblastoma multiforme can quickly grow and spread to other parts of the brain, leading to seizures and other serious complications.
What are the symptoms for Astrocytoma?
Symptoms for astrocytoma vary depending on the grade of astrocytoma. Symptoms of Grade 1 and 2 astrocytomas are typically less severe than for Grade 3 and 4 astrocytomas.
Astrocytomas may cause headaches, nausea, fatigue, vision changes, or seizures. Depending on the location of the astrocytoma, other brain functions may also be impaired, possibly leading to difficulty speaking, loss of coordination, or paralysis.
What are the current treatments for Astrocytoma?
Treatment for astrocytoma depends on several factors based on the type, size, and location of the tumor. Most treatment plans are designed based on an individual patient's unique situation.
In general, treatment for astrocytoma may include surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.
Surgery to remove the tumor is generally the first step in treating astrocytoma. Depending on the tumor's location, surgery may be able to entirely remove smaller astrocytomas. However, if a tumor is located near a sensitive area in the brain, surgery may not be possible at all.
Radiation therapy often follows surgery for the treatment of astrocytoma. Radiation therapy involves the use of high-energy beams, including X-rays or protons, to destroy tumor cells.
Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs, either taken orally or injected through a vein, to kill tumor cells. Chemotherapy is often used in combination with radiation therapy.
What is the outlook (prognosis) for Astrocytoma?
The prognosis for individuals with astrocytoma is generally dependent on the grade of tumor. Individuals with Grade 1 and Grade 2 astrocytomas are often able to receive treatment before the tumor can spread or grow significantly.
How do I prevent Astrocytoma?
There is currently no known way to prevent an astrocytoma. However, if you develop any symptoms common to an astrocytoma, it is recommended to make an appointment with your doctor to be properly diagnosed.