Astrocytoma or Brain Tumor Glioma

Head | Oncology | Astrocytoma or Brain Tumor Glioma (Disease)


Astrocytoma is a tumor that begins in the brain or spinal cord in small, star-shaped cells called astrocytes. The location of the tumor depends on the age of the person. In adults, astrocytomas most often arise in the cerebrum, whereas in children, they may arise in the brain stem, cerebrum, and cerebellum.

Astrocytomas are the most common type of glioma, a tumor arising from the glial (supporting) cells in the nervous system. The most severe and common type is called glioblastoma multiforme.

The most common symptoms of an astrocytoma include: headache and symptoms that may accompany the headache (nausea, vomiting). Additional symptoms of an astrocytoma may include: altered smell sense, aphasia, ataxia, change in vision, confusion, dizziness, hearing loss, memory loss, numbness in one arm or leg. Less common symptoms of an astrocytoma are: loss of consciousness, seizures, personality changes (depression) and unusual behavior.

Causes and Risk factors

Risk factor for astrocytoma include: radiation exposure - some people exposed to high doses of radiation appear to have an increased risk of brain cancer; exposure to certain chemicals (oil refining, rubber manufacturing) and neurofibromatosis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A Computed Tomography (CT) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan is necessary to characterize the extent of these tumors (size, location, consistency).

The treatment of an astrocytoma depends on the type, size and location of the cancer. Treatment measures usually include a combination of surgery, corticosteroid medications, anticonvulsants, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. ...

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