An astrocytoma is a type of spinal cord or brain cancer diagnosed by Best Neurologist in Lahore that begins in the supporting cells of the nervous sys
An astrocytoma is a type of spinal cord or brain cancer diagnosed by Best Neurologist in Lahore that begins in the supporting cells of the nervous system. The symptoms of an astrocytoma cannot be generalized and depend on the region of the brain involved.
Read on to know more about astrocytoma, its symptoms, types, and treatment options:
What is astrocytoma?
It is a form of tumor of the supporting cell of the nervous system, which commonly develops in people after the age of 45 years. Men are more commonly affected by astrocytoma in comparison to women. There are several types of this disease which are including:
- Glioblastoma: these are also known as grade IV tumors, and about 60 percent of astrocytomas belong to this subtype. This subtype is the most aggressive and invasive type of tumor with more malignant evolution. Often, they include a mix of different cell types and are therefore harder to treat.
- Anaplastic astrocytoma: these rapidly growing tumor cells have tentacle-like projections that can grow into neighboring brain tissue and are therefore harder to treat. They belong to the grade III tumor subtype. These tumors need chemo and radiotherapy following surgical resection for management.
- Brain stem glioma: as the name implies, this type of astrocytoma grows in the brainstem or the region of the brain connecting the brain with the spinal cord. This type is rare in adults.
- Pineal astrocytic tumor: this tumor grows in the pineal gland or the tiny part of the cerebrum which controls the sleep and awake cycle through a hormone called melatonin.
- Diffuse astrocytoma: these are slow-growing tumors that are considered low-grade but can grow into higher-grade tumors. Clinically, they are considered invasive in nature as there is no clear demarcation from the surrounding brain. Surgery is insufficient to treat this type of astrocytoma.
- Pilocytic astrocytoma: these types of tumors are more common in children and grow slowly. The location of this subtype of astrocytoma is the cerebellum, the part of the brain just above the back of the head. This tumor is less invading and thus has higher chances of a complete cure following surgery. In fact, most types of pilocytic astrocytoma do not need radio- and chemotherapy following resection.
What are the symptoms of astrocytoma?
The clinical presentation of this disease involves:
- Persistent and ongoing headaches especially early in the morning due to raised intracranial pressure
- Double vision or diplopia
- Difficulty in speech
- Nausea and vomiting especially in the morning due to higher intracranial pressure
- Behavioral changes are common in frontal lobe tumors
- Blurring of vision
- New onset seizures
- Cognitive decline and memory problems
- Difficulty focusing on tasks
In general, the symptoms of this illness depend on the location of the tumor and its size. Low-grade and highly differentiated tumors tend to grow larger in size and present with symptoms earlier than high-grade poorly differentiated tumors. The latter cause more brain swelling and destruction of brain tissue.
What are the astrocytoma treatment options?
The treatment options for this tumor include:
- Surgery: surgical resection of the tumor is the option for low-grade tumors that are more localized. More advanced tumors such as gliomas are rarely removed with surgery alone.
- Chemotherapy: this is the recommended treatment for anaplastic astrocytoma and glioblastoma, before or after radiotherapy. Some healthcare providers choose to implant wafers of chemotherapeutic drugs during surgery for slow release of drugs.
- Targeted therapy: this is the newer type of treatment that targets tumor-growing proteins. In combination with radio and chemotherapy, this form of treatment works differently and helps to stop the growth of tumors.
- Electric-field therapy: this form of therapy uses electrodes on the scalp to produce an electric field to target tumor cells. The device for electric-field therapy is called Optune and is approved by the FDA for people with recurrent tumors as well as newly diagnosed individuals. The good thing about this form of treatment is that it does not damage the normal cells of the brain, unlike chemo and radiotherapy which can damage the other cells as well.
- Radiotherapy: for tumors that are not completely removed with surgery, radiation therapy is recommended. More information about radiotherapy for astrocytoma can be sought from healthcare experts at Reliance Hospital.
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