Anaplastic Astrocytoma

Overview


Tumour Group: Gliomas
WHO Grade: Grade III
Prevalence/Incidence: n/a
Typical Age Range: More common among men and women in their 30s to 50s, the mean is approximately 40 years of age. This tumour accounts for 2% of all brain tumours.

Contents
Description of Tumour
Symptoms
Treatment / Standard of Care
Prognosis
References

Description of Tumour


The cells of these tumours are moderately fast-growing and less well-defined than a lower grade astrocytoma (Grade I or II), and are typically diagnosed in adults. Anaplastic astrocytomas can occur anywhere in the brain. They are sometimes found in the brainstem, making a histological diagnosis difficult. Like many brain tumour types, the exact cause of an anaplastic astrocytoma is not known.

  • Grows faster and more aggressively than Grade II astrocytomas and have an intrinsic tendency for malignant progression to glioblastoma multiforme.
  • Tend to have tentacle-like projections that grow into surrounding tissue, making them difficult to completely remove during surgery.
  • Tumour cells are not uniform in appearance.
  • Invades neighbouring tissue.
  • Anaplastic astrocytomas are more common in men than women.

Symptoms


Common symptoms include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Changes in behaviour
  • Headaches
  • Memory loss
  • Seizures

Treatment / Standard of Care


Treatment depends on the location of the tumour and how far it has progressed. Surgery and radiation therapy, with chemotherapy during or following radiation, are the standard treatments for anaplastic astrocytomas. If surgery is not an option, then the physician may recommend radiation and/or chemotherapy.

Prognosis  


A prognosis is an estimate of the likely progress of a disease after a diagnosis, based on an average patient group. Since every person is different, please take time to talk with your health care team about how this information applies to you.

By clicking on 'Expand,' a statistic on the prognosis for anaplastic astrocytomas will be shown.

Expand for Prognosis Information

For brain tumour patients, a prognosis depends on several factors, which can include age and other health issues, the size of the tumour, its molecular profile, the type of tumour, how much can be removed and its response to treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

With standard treatment, median survival for adults with an anaplastic astrocytoma is approximately two to three years. However, the molecular profile of the tumour can help inform a longer or shorter prognosis.

Anaplastic astrocytoma has a strong tendency to progress to glioblastoma multiforme and the pace of progression is variable, but population-based studies suggest a mean time interval of approximately two years for progression.
 

References


Adult Brain Tumour Handbook 6th Edition. Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. 2012.

Anaplastic Astrocytoma. The National Brain Tumour Society, n.d. Web. 29 May 2013.

“Anaplastic Astrocytoma.” American Brain Tumour Association. American Brain Tumour Association, n.d. Web. 29 May 2013.
Kleihues, P., and W. K. Cavenee. Pathology and Genetics of Tumours of the Nervous System. Lyon: IARC, 2000. Print.

Louis, David N. WHO Classification of Tumours of the Central Nervous System. Lyon: International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2007. Print

Pediatric Brain Tumour Handbook 6th Edition. Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. 2012.

Image credited to http://radiopaedia.org/articles/anaplastic-astrocytoma
 

 You can also download this information as a Information Sheet on Anaplastic Astrocytoma (pdf).

A licensed mechanic, one day at work, Greg suddenly began to feel unwell. When he approached a coworker for an aspirin, she immediately recognized that slurred speech and numbness in his left arm could be signs of a heart attack and took him to the emergency room. Following an EKG, x-rays, a CT scan and MRI, Greg heard the news: he had a brain tumour.

Today, Greg is an anaplastic astrocytoma brain tumour survivor.
Read his story of hope >>

 

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