Anaplastic Astrocytoma

Also known as: astrocytoma, grade III-1V astrocytoma, glioblastoma, and others.

What is anaplastic astrocytoma?

Astrocytes cells (a type of glial cells) are a diverse group of cells which play many roles in the brain, but particularly form the physical and physiological supportive system for the brain’s neurons (the specialized working part of the brain that transmits information to other nerve cells, muscles or gland cells).

Astrocytomas (or gliomas) are tumors that grow from these cells and make up almost 50% of childhood brain tumors, frequently occurring in children between 5-9 years of age.

There are 4 types of astrocytoma which may be:

  • low (Grades 1 or 11; most common)
  • fast-growing (High Grades/Anaplastic 111 or 1V).

These tumors are malignant (can spread throughout the brain/spinal cord, and are often found in the large upper part of the brain -but also in other areas- which controls thinking, emotions, reading etc.).

What causes anaplastic astrocytoma?

The exact cause of anaplastic astrocytomas is unclear, however they seem to be most frequently associated with chromosomal/genetic mutations, though environmental factors, and /or other factors may play a role.

What are the symptoms of anaplastic astrocytoma?

Symptoms vary depending on the child's age, location of the tumor, the function of the involved part of the brain and how fast the tumor grows. Some children will have no symptoms until the tumor is large, others may have slowly evolving symptoms or symptoms may rapidly progress.

Symptoms include: nausea, vomiting, early morning headaches, weight gain or loss change, changes in personality or behavior, seizures, vision problems, increasing head size in an infant, and/or arm and leg weakness.

What are anaplastic astrocytoma care options?

Like many cancers, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy in some combination are the standard treatment for anaplastic astrocytoma. Treatment may be difficult depending on the specific location of the tumor within the brain.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: April 14, 2022 02:32 PM

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