Pilocytic Astrocytoma

Also known as: juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma, JPA.

What is pilocytic astrocytoma?

An astrocyte is a type of glial cell that supports and nourishes the neurons, the cells of the brain that send signals to the brain and rest of the body. An astrocytoma is a type of brain tumor glioma, and pilocytic astrocytomas are a family of slow-growing, mostly noncancerous (non spreading-grades 1 and 11) tumors from glial cells.

What causes pilocytic astrocytoma?

While the cause is unknown, genetic factors (such as having other genetic disorders), environmental (for example exposure to certain chemicals and radiation), immunologic and other factors appear to potentially play a role.

What are the symptoms of pilocytic astrocytoma?

Signs and symptoms depend on the size and location of the tumor, which can grow anywhere in the brain and spinal cord.

Common findings, often caused by pressure within the brain from a large tumor or blockage of the flow of cerebrospinal fluid include:

  • lethargy
  • headaches
  • drowsiness
  • clumsiness
  • vomiting particularly in the morning
  • changes in personality or mental status

Additional symptoms include seizures, vision problems and difficulty/weakness with limb movement or coordination, premature puberty, plus many others.

What are pilocytic astrocytoma care options?

Treatments will vary depending on the size, location and degree of malignancy of the tumor. Surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible, and chemotherapy to eliminate any remaining tumor cells is frequent (radiation therapy while once often used is generally avoided because of long-term side effects).

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: May 02, 2022 04:29 PM

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