Astrocytoma is a brain tumor type that originates in a specific kind of glial-cells with star shaped brain cells in the cerebrum. This star shaped brain cells is called astrocytes. This type of tumor grows slowly and doesn’t spread outside the brain and it also normally doesn’t affect other organs. However, it can also occasionally occur in the spinal cord.
Astrocytoma is classified into two classes. The two classes are the Narrow zones of infiltration and the diffuse zones of infiltration. Narrow zones of infiltration are usually outlined on diagnostic images examples of this are invasive tumors like the sub ependymal giant cell astrocytomas, pilocytic astrocytoma and pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma.
Meanwhile difficult zones of infiltration shares various features like the ability to ascend at any location but with preference for cerebral hemisphere which usually occurs in adults and has tendency to progress into advanced grades. Examples of this are the anaplastic astrocytoma, low-grade astrocytoma and glioblastoma.
Astrocytoma can happen to anyone at any age. There are 2 types of these tumors -the low grade type and the high grade type. The low grade type is often found in children or young adults while the high grade occurs to adults.
What are the symptoms of Astrocytoma? A person who has this tumor will experience headache, vomiting and a change in mental status which can be a result of the pressure felt inside the skull. Symptoms also include drowsiness, tiredness, obtuseness, personality changes, disordered conduct and impaired mental faculties which might be seen early on a one out of four patient ratio of those with malignant tumors.
However on young children, the pressure brought by the Astrocytoma tumor can enlarge their heads. If this happens there would be changes like swelling in the back of the eye on the blind side can be seen on the patient. Though there are no noted changes on the patient’s blood pressure, respiratory or pulse rates, seizures can occur commonly together with meningioma, slow growing astrocytomas and oligodendrogliogliomas. However symptoms might vary and will depend on what part of the brain is affected by the tumor.
So what can be the examinations or tests that a patient can undergo once he has some of the symptoms? Once a patient shows one of the symptoms of Astrocytoma, he should have a neurologic evaluation. The neurologist will conduct the examination. Complete examination includes having the MRI scan or magnetic resonance imaging, CAT/CT or computed tomography plus chest x-ray which will help determine if the tumor has already spread or not.
After the tests are done, the patient will now be assessed to determine which treatment is the best for him. Factors like the tumor’s nature, tumor’s location, how fast it is growing and what are the symptoms observed. Surgeries can be done to improve the patient’s condition. One of the therapies that can treat a tumor is the radiation therapy. Chemotherapy can also be undergone by the patient.
On the other hand, as of today these surgeries or procedures cannot guarantee full recovery of the patients. And still the exact cause of this disease is also not known yet.
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