Tumour Group: Gliomas
WHO Grade: Astrocytomas are graded on a scale from I to IV based on the World Health Organization (WHO) brain tumour grading scale and how normal or abnormal the cells look.

There are low-grade astrocytomas and high-grade astrocytomas. Low-grade astrocytomas are usually localized and grow slowly. High-grade astrocytomas grow at a rapid pace and require a different course of treatment. Most astrocytoma tumours in children are low-grade. In adults, the majority are high-grade.

Prevalence/Incidence: Please refer to a specific Tumour Type for this information.
Typical Age Range: Please refer to a specific Tumour Type for this information.

Description of Tumour
Treatment / Standard of Care

Description of Tumour

Glial cells, which are supportive cells that help brain cells (neurons) function are the most common cellular component of the brain. The most common type of glial cell is an astrocyte and an astrocytoma is a type of glial tumour. Like many brain tumour types, the exact cause of an astrocytoma is not known.

Tumours originating from the star-shaped astrocyte cells, which are the supportive tissue of the brain.

A significant proportion of astrocytomas, over time, may alter their cell structure and become more aggressive, i.e. anaplastic astrocytoma and glioblastoma multiforme.

Some examples of astrocytic tumours include:

  • Juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma (JPA)
  • Diffuse / fibrillary astrocytoma
  • Anaplastic astrocytoma
  • Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM)


Symptoms are different for various types of astrocytomas. Please refer to specific Tumour Type for this information.

Treatment / Standard of Care

Treatments are different depending on the type of astrocytoma. Please refer to a specific Tumour Type for this information.


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.

As astrocytomas are an overarching tumour type, please refer to a specific tumour type for this information.


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

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

Image credited to Hellerhoff (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


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


In 2005, Jim was given a prognosis that shook him and his family to their core: he was told he had less than one year to live due to a large astrocytoma on his right frontal lobe. Since then, Jim has not only beaten the odds and survived, but he’s become a passionate fundraiser for patient care and brain tumour research.

Read Jim's story of hope >>


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