Astrocytoma Definition, Reason, Symptom, Treatment, Prevention

Astrocytoma Definition, Reason, Symptom, Treatment, Prevention


Astrocytoma is a term used to describe primary brain tumors originating from astrocytes. These are star-shaped cells that form the supporting network of the brain and help transmit information between nerve cells. Primary tumor means a tumor that originates from the brain tissue itself and is not the result of spread from other parts of the body.

Known several types of astrocytoma, which are distinguished by the appearance of these tumors under the microscope, the speed of growth, and spread. The types of astrocytomas are:

  • Grade I astrocytoma (pilocytic astrocytoma)

It is often considered the most benign type of astrocytoma. It is slow in growth and does not spread, although it can reach large sizes. Rarely recurs after discharge. Usually found in the cerebellum of the brain that regulates balance or the optical pathways associated with vision function.

  • Grade II astrocytoma (diffuse astrocytoma)

It is slow in growth but has a less clear limit so it is often difficult to dispose of. Sometimes it can come back even after it has been removed.

  • Grade III astrocytoma (anaplastic astrocytoma)

It grows quickly, besides that it has a tentacle-like border that often grows into the surrounding tissue making it difficult to remove completely. It often recurs after treatment in a more advanced form, eg grade IV astrocytoma. Considered malignant or malignant.

  • Grade IV astrositoma (glioblastoma)

There are two types, primary and secondary. Primer is the most common form, and is very aggressive. The secondary is the result of the evolution of lower-grade tumors.


The exact cause of astrocytoma is not known, although many studies have focused on studying the role of genes in the emergence of astrocytomas. Human genes regulate how cells in the body grow and divide.

The presence of gene mutations can cause uncontrolled cell growth, thus causing tumors.


To determine the diagnosis of astrocytoma requires a complete evaluation, which consists of:

  • A detailed medical history or interview: includes the signs and symptoms felt, a history of the disease, and so on.
  • Physical examination: aims to determine the presence of signs of increased intracranial pressure (inside the head), cranial nerve palsy, hemiparesis or weakness on one side of the body, abnormal reflexes or abnormalities in deep tendon reflexes.
  • Investigations: generally as a standard an MRI examination is recommended. In addition, CT scan angiography, PET- scan, and so on may be considered.


The symptoms experienced depend on the size and location of the tumor. Some of the symptoms that astrocytoma sufferers may complain about are:

  • Disorders of consciousness and mental status
  • Cognitive problems
  • Memory loss
  • Changes in behavior and mood
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite
  • Visual impairment
  • Motor disorders
  • Sensory disturbance
  • Speech disorders
  • Seizures, which can be in the form of twitching of the face, arms, and legs
  • Ataxia


Treatment of astrocytoma needs to be tailored to the type of astrocytoma, size, location, distribution, previous treatment, and general health of the patient. Possible treatments that can be offered:

  • Surgery: aims to remove all or part of the astrocytoma.
  • Radiation therapy: may be given after surgery. Generally given for 5 days per week, for 6 weeks.
  • Chemotherapy: generally given orally.
  • Symptomatic treatment (management of symptoms), such as anticonvulsants to treat seizures, or corticosteroids to help reduce the mass (due to swelling).

Generally, in grade I tumors, surgery is sufficient to remove the entire astrocytoma. However, in grade II, the tumor is often difficult to completely remove surgically. For that, radiation can be added to treat tumors that cannot be removed.

Meanwhile, grade III will generally be treated with surgery followed by radiation. Chemotherapy may be added after radiation or if recurrence occurs. In grade IV, surgery is usually recommended followed by radiation and chemotherapy. After undergoing treatment, patients with astrocytoma need to undergo regular check-ups to monitor the occurrence of recurrence.

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