Astrocytoma – An Overview

Tumour Group:
Astrocytoma
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.
Prevalence/Incidence:
Typical Age Range:

Tumour Characteristics

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.

Some examples of astrocytic tumours include:

  • Pilocytic astrocytoma – Grade I
  • Diffuse astrocytoma – Grade II
  • Anaplastic astrocytoma – Grade III
  • Glioblastoma (GB) – Grade IV

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.

Symptoms

Common symptoms include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Symptoms are different for various types of astrocytomas.

Treatment/Standard of Care

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

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.

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