An astrocytoma is a brain tumor that comes from the supporting cells of the brain, the glial cells. Astrocytomas are 'graded' 1-4, with a grade '4' tumor being the most aggressive. Astrocytomas are also described in the following fashion.
- Grade 1 astrocytoma--> Pilocytic astrocytoma
- Grade 2 astrocytoma--> Low grade astrocytoma
- Grade 3 astrocytoma--> Anaplastic astrocytoma
- Grade 4 astrocytoma--> Glioblastoma or glioblastoma multiforme or GBM
Treatment of these tumors is complex, often involving a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. In addition, clinical trials are frequently used in the advanced treatment of these tumors. The UCSD neuro-oncology program supports a large number of clinical trials in an ongoing basis.
When a patient 1st years that they have a brain tumor diagnosis or possible astrocytoma, there are many questions which arise. Some questions include:
- What is the proper evaluation for these tumors? Do I need an MRI scan? Are there other imaging studies that are useful?
- Should I have a biopsy or should I have an attempted removal of the tumor?
- If the tumor is located near a critical area, can still be removed?
- What are the implications if the tumor is a low-grade tumor versus a high-grade tumor?
- Are astrocytoma tumors cancerous?
- Will I need chemotherapy?
- Will I need radiation therapy?
Answers to these questions and more are found on our frequently asked questions page.
Organization with more information include: