What is astrocytoma?
Astrocytoma may be a sort of cancer that will form within the brain or medulla spinalis. Astrocytoma starts in cells called astrocytes that encourage nerve cells.
The signs and symptoms of astrocytoma depend upon the situation of your tumor. Astrocytomas that occur within the brain can cause seizures, headaches, and nausea. Astrocytomas that occur within the medulla spinalis can cause weakness and disability within the area suffering from tumor growth.
Astrocytoma is often a slow-growing tumor or it is often an aggressive, fast-growing cancer. The aggressiveness (grade) of your astrocytoma decides your prognosis and treatment options.
Types of astrocytoma
Types of astrocytoma include:
Causes of astrocytoma
Like most primary brain tumors, the precise explanation for gliomas is unknown. But there are some factors that will increase your risk of getting a brain tumor.
Like most primary brain tumors, the precise explanation for gliomas is unknown. But there are some factors that will increase your risk of getting a brain tumor. Risk factors include:
- Your age. Your risk of getting a brain tumor increases with age. Gliomas are commonest in adults between the ages of 45 and 65. However, a brain tumor can happen at any age. Certain sorts of gliomas, like ependymomas and pilocytic astrocytomas, are more common in children and young adults.
- Exposure to radiation. People that are exposed to a kind of radiation called radiation have a better risk of developing a brain tumor. Samples of radiation include radiotherapy wont to treat cancer and exposure to radiation caused by atomic bombs.
The most common sorts of radiation, like electromagnetic fields from power lines and frequency radiation from microwave ovens, haven’t been shown to extend the danger of glioma.
It is not clear whether telephone use increases the danger of brain cancer. Some studies have found a possible association between telephone use and a kind of brain cancer called acoustic neuroma. Many other studies have found no association. Because cell phones are a comparatively new factor, more long-term research is required to know the potential impact on cancer risk. For now, if you’re concerned about the possible link between cell phones and cancer, experts recommend limiting your exposure by employing a speakerphone or hands-free device, which keeps the telephone far away from your head.
- Case history of glioma. It’s rare for glioma to be hereditary. But having a case history of glioma can double the danger of developing it. Some genes are weakly related to glioma, but more studies are needed to verify a link between these genetic variations and brain tumors.
Symptoms of astrocytoma
Astrocytoma symptoms vary counting on the sort of tumor, also because of the size, location, and rate of growth of the tumor.
Common signs and symptoms of astrocytoma include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Confusion or impaired brain function
- Personality changes or irritability
- Difficulty maintaining balance
- Vision problems, like blurred vision, diplopia, or loss of sight
- Speech difficulties
- Seizures, particularly in someone without a history of seizures
Diagnosis of astrocytoma
The tests and procedures wont to diagnose astrocytoma include:
- Neurological examination: During a neurological exam, your doctor will ask about your signs and symptoms. He or she will control your vision, hearing, balance, coordination, strength, and reflexes. Problems in one or more of those areas can provide clues to that a part of your brain which will be suffering from a brain tumor.
- Imaging tests: Imaging tests can help your doctor determine the situation and size of your brain tumor. MRI is usually wont to diagnose brain tumors and may be utilized in conjunction with specialized MRI imaging, like functional MRI, perfusion MRI, and MRI spectroscopy.
Other imaging tests may include CT scans and positron emission tomography (PET).
Removal of a tissue sample for analysis (biopsy). A biopsy could also be done before surgery or during surgery to get rid of your astrocytoma, counting on your unique situation and therefore the location of your tumor. The suspicious tissue sample is analyzed during a laboratory to work out the cell types and their level of aggressiveness.
Specialized tests of tumor cells can tell your doctor what sorts of mutations the cells have acquired. This provides your doctor with clues about your prognosis and may guide your treatment options.
Treatment for astrocytoma
Astrocytoma treatments include:
Surgery to get rid of the astrocytoma. Your neurosurgeon will work to get rid of the maximum amount of astrocytoma as possible. The goal is to get rid of all of cancer, but sometimes the astrocytoma is found near sensitive brain tissue that creates it too risky. Even removing cancer can reduce its signs and symptoms.
For some people, surgery could also be the sole treatment needed. For others, additional treatments could also be recommended to kill any cancer cells which will remain and reduce the danger of the cancer returning.
- Radiotherapy: Radiotherapy uses high-energy beams, like X-rays or protons, to kill cancer cells. During radiotherapy, you lie on a table while a machine moves around you, directing the rays to express points in your brain.
Radiation therapy could also be recommended after surgery if cancer has not been completely removed or if there’s an increased risk of the cancer returning. Radiation is usually combined with chemotherapy for aggressive cancers. For people that cannot have surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy could also be used because of the primary treatment.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs are often taken in pill form or through a vein in your arm. In certain situations, a circular wafer of chemotherapy drugs could also be placed within the brain after surgery, where it dissolves and slowly releases the drug.
Chemotherapy is normally used after surgery to remove any cancer cells which will remain. It that often combined with radiotherapy for aggressive cancers.
- Clinical trials: Clinical trials are studies of the latest treatments. These studies offer you the chance to check the newest treatment options, but the danger of side effects might not be known. Ask your doctor if you would possibly be eligible to participate in a clinical test.
- Supportive (palliative) care: Palliative care is specialized medical aid that focuses on providing relief from pain and other symptoms of a significant illness. Palliative care specialists work with you, your family, and your other doctors to supply a further layer of support to enrich your ongoing care. Palliative care is often used while undergoing other aggressive treatments, like surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy.
Other than radiation exposure, there are no known environmental or lifestyle causes of brain and spinal cord tumors, so there is currently no known way to protect against most of these tumors.
Departments to consult for this condition
- Department of Neurology