Munson Health
 
Astrocytoma

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by Badash M

(Brain Tumor; Glioma)

 

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your doctor may need to look at pictures of your brain. This can be done through:
You may also have biopsy/resection to remove a sample of brain tissue to test it for cancer cells.

Grading

A specialist will determine the grade of the tumor. Astrocytomas are graded from I to IV. These grades indicate the outlook and rate of tumor growth.
  • Grades I and II—These low-grade astrocytomas grow slowly. They generally stay in an area of the brain. They are more commonly found in younger patients. Grade II astrocytomas can spread.
  • Grades III and IV—These high-grade tumors grow rapidly. They can spread throughout the brain and spinal cord. Aggressive treatment is needed. This is the most common type found in adults. Grade III tumors are called anaplastic astrocytoma. Grade IV tumors are called glioblastoma multiforme or GBM.
 

Treatment

Treatment is based on the location, size, and grade of the tumor. Treatment may include:

Surgery

Surgery involves the removal of as much of the tumor as possible. High grade tumors are treated with surgery. Surgery is followed by radiation or chemotherapy to help prevent further spread.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy involves the use of radiation to kill cancer cells or shrink the tumor. Radiation may be:
  • External radiation therapy—Radiation aimed at the tumor from a source outside the body
  • Internal radiation therapy, which is also called brachytherapy—Radioactive materials placed into the body near the cancer cells

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be given in many forms, including pill, injection, and a tube called a catheter. The drugs enter the bloodstream. They travel through the body destroying mostly cancer cells. Some healthy cells are also destroyed.
 

RESOURCES

American Brain Tumor Association
http://www.abta.org

American Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.org

 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Brain Tumor Foundation of Canada
http://www.braintumour.ca

Canadian Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.ca

 

References


Astrocytoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 13, 2013. Accessed June 20, 2013.


General information about adult brain tumors. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/adultbrain/HealthProfessional. Updated May 14, 2013. Accessed June 20, 2013.

 

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