Pineal astrocytoma is a brain tumor found in adults that spreads through the central nervous system.
This tumor arises from or near the pineal gland (an organ in the brain which produces the hormone melatonin, that controls an individual’s sleeping and waking cycle).
The term astrocytoma refers to a tumor that begins in the brain or spinal cord and consists of star shaped cells. The cells that form a pineal astrocytoma tumor are known as astrocyte cells, whose purpose is to help form part of the brain’s supportive tissue.
- Age: Occurs in individuals 45 years or older.
- Gender: Men are more likely to develop pineal astrocytoma.
- Race: Occur more in Caucasians than any other race or ethnicity.
- Exposure to Radiation
- Chemical Exposure
- Family History of Brain Tumors
The prognosis of pineal astrocytoma depends on the risk factors and how far advanced a patient is at the time of diagnosis. There are many other factors such as the number of other spinal and/or brain tumors located within the patient, a patient’s response to treatment, and the tumor’s location.
Signs & Symptoms
- Frequent Headaches
- Loss of Appetite
- Changes in Mood or Personality
- Changes in Ability to Think and Learn
Diagnosis and Staging
To determine an individual’s diagnosis, doctors can perform a variety of tests including: a CAT scan, MRI, an Angiogram/Arteriogram, and a Myelogram.
Pineal astrocytoma has no standard staging system, but its progression is recorded based on grades.
- Grade 1: Normal cell appearance and an increase in their quantity. Symptoms such as seizures are caused due to the tumor’s irritating presence to surrounding brain tissue. It is possible to remove the entire tumor surgically.
- Grade 2: Tumor grows slowly, but may spread into nearby tissue and has the capability to become a higher-grade tumor.
- Grade 3: Tumor grows quickly and is likely to spread into nearby tissue and tumor cells. These cells seem to differ in appearance than the normal astrocyte cells.
- Grade 4: Tumor grows aggressively and contains cells that look very different from normal cells and is difficult to treat successfully.
The general focus of brain tumor treatment is to decrease the amount of symptoms, resulting in a healthier patient.
Treatment options include:
- Clinical Trials: Research studies to help find treatment improvements.
- Surgery: Usually performed first to remove as much of the tumor as possible.
- Chemotherapy: The use of chemical agents (drugs) to kill cancer cells.