Astrocytoma is one of the most common forms of glioma (a cancer that arises in the brain and/or spinal cord). There are two different classes of astrocytoma tumors:
- Narrow Infiltration Zone
- Diffuse Infiltration Zone
Astrocytomas develop from astrocyte cells that are located primarily in the cerebrium, which is the main part of the brain.
People of all ages can develop this tumorous growth. Adults, however, are more likely to develop astrocytoma. When these gliomas develops in children, it tends to form in the base of the brain.
Astrocytoma Risk Factors and Causes
The exact cause of astrocytoma remains elusive, but the development of this disease has been linked to the following conditions:
- Family History: People with an immediate relative (parent or sibling) with astrocytoma are more likely to develop the disease themselves.
- Radiation Exposure: People exposed to radiation the workplace and/or former recipients of radiotherapy to treat a previous cancer are more likely to develop astrocytoma.
- Chemical Exposure: Exposure to certain workplace chemicals may increase your chances of developing astrocytoma. Talk to your employer about the harmful chemicals in your workplace. Workers in the oil refining and rubber manufacturing industries have increased astrocytoma risk.
Astrocytoma Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of astrocytoma include:
- Walking Disabilities
- Changes in Personality
- Visual Changes
- Problems with Memory, Thinking and Concentration
The symptoms of this glioma vary depending on where it developes on the brain.
A cancer is graded to determine the extent of metastasis (spread) and overall behavior of the tumor:
Low-grade astrocytoma is known as WHO Grade I or World Health Organization Grade I astrocytoma. Some of the gliomas that commonly fit within this category are pilocytic astrocytomas, subependymal, pleomorphic xanthoastrocytomas, subependymomas and giant cell astrocytomas. This type of tumor is usually removed through surgery, but if the surgeon is unable to properly excise the tumor, the glioma is often treated with radiation therapy.
WHO Grade II astrocytoma identifies a glioma that has infiltrated other parts of the brain and/or other nearby structures. These gliomas are more difficult to cure. In most cases, they cannot be surgically excised.
Astrocytoma treatment has been the focus of ongoing research and clinical trials. The most common treatment options available today include:
Astrocytoma Surgerical Removal
- Biopsy: Tthe extraction of tissues via a needle and syringe or other special instruments
- Radiation Therapy: The use of ionizing radiation beams to kill cancer cells
- Chemotherapy: The use of chemical agents (drugs) to kill cancer cells.
Sometimes treatment options are administered in conjunction with one another to improve chances of successful treatment.
Astrocytoma Outlook (Prognosis)
A variety of factors influence an astrocytoma patient’s prognosis. The size and location of the tumor, the patient’s age and overall health, and the patient’s candidacy for surgical resection all play vital roles in determining a patient’s outlook. Remember, a prognosis is a mere “assumption”. It is used to help physicians and patients plan for the future. The president of Know Cancer, Joshua Snyder, was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Today, he is more than two years in remission.