Brain astrocytoma: types, causes, symptoms, treatment

Brain astrocytoma: types, causes, symptoms, treatment

An astrocytoma is a glial brain tumor that develops from stellate cells (astrocytes). In recent years, cases of central nervous system tumors have become more frequent, according to statistics, astrocytoma occurs in 40-45% of cases among all brain neoplasms.

Astrocytoma: what is it

Astrocytoma is a tumor located in different parts of the brain, but most often it is recorded in astrocytoma in the region of the big hemispheres, brain stem, cerebellum, optic nerve. The astrocytoma tumor can be of varying degrees of malignancy, it all depends on the elements from which it is formed. But it is believed that all brain tumors are conditionally benign since they will sooner or later lead to neurological disorders that are incompatible with life. Therefore, the prognosis of life in astrocytoma conditionally favorable.

The astrocytoma tumor is classified according to the degree of malignancy into 4 types.

1 degree of malignancy – piloid astrocytoma

Pilocytic (pilot) astrocytoma is formed in 10-15% of cases, most often in children or under the age of 20 years. This is a benign astrocytoma, which is characterized by slow growth and does not metastasize, besides it has clearly defined boundaries, it develops from cells that are almost devoid of signs of autism. But It is worth noting that if a benign astrocytoma of this form is located in the hypothalamus, then it acquires a malignant course of nature, gives metastases around the tumor lesion and the circulation channels of the CSF.

Pilocytic astrocytoma in children is most often localized in the cerebellum or optic nerve, in older adults the astrocytoma tumor is located in the big hemispheres. Astrocytoma in children rarely causes signs of neurological deficit and is more benign, although if it is large, it can lead to adverse effects. The prognosis of astrocytoma of this type is the most favorable.

Astrocytoma grade 2 malignant – diffuse astrocytoma

Diffuse astrocytoma develops in 10-15% of cases mainly at the age of 20-40 years. It can form in any part of the nervous system, but most often it is localized in the frontal and temporal lobes, and in the big hemispheres. This is a benign astrocytoma, which can be formed primarily or as a result of the protoplasmic transformation. Grade 2 astrocytoma is divided into several histological types:

  • Fibrillary: this is a benign astrocytoma, formed from fibrillar astrocytes, which do not differ much from healthy ones since they show little evidence of atypia. Astrocytoma grade 2 of this type is a conglomerate of cells without foci of necrosis and blood vessels. But It is worth noting that if this benign astrocytoma reaches a large size, then due to insufficient blood supply it will be necrotic. Fibrillar astrocytoma grade 2 is characterized by slow growth, not aggressive, does not metastasize, but it has blurred boundaries. The prognosis of astrocytoma of this form is favorable;
  • Protoplasmic: it is also a benign astrocytoma, it develops from astrocytes with mild signs of atypia. This grade 2 astrocytoma is also a conglomerate of cells, but microcysts are often found in pathological foci. This benign astrocytoma is also characterized by slow growth, rarely grows into the surrounding tissues, but it is characterized by edema around the lesion. The prognosis of astrocytoma of this type is favorable;
  • Hepatocytic: this grade 2 astrocytoma is formed from hemocytocytes – modified, malformed astrocytes. This grade 2 astrocytoma is a fibrillar node that includes more than 20% of hepatocytes. A benign astrocytoma of this type is distinguished by the most malignant course, often transformed into anaplastic astrocytoma. The forecast astrocytoma of this species is worse than the previous ones.

Astrocytoma grade 3 malignancy – anaplastic astrocytoma

The astrocytoma tumor of this form occurs in 20-30% of cases, mainly at the age of 40-50 years. This astrocytoma in children does not develop primarily, only as a result of the degeneration of other types of astrocytomas. The prognosis of anaplastic astrocytoma is unfavorable, since it grows rapidly, grows into surrounding tissues, and has no clear boundaries.

Astrocytoma grade 4 malignancy – glioblastoma

Tumor astrocytoma grade 4 malignancy occurs in 50% of cases, affects men and women aged 50-60 years. It can develop in different parts of the brain, but most often in the big hemispheres. The tumor astrocytoma of this type is characterized by rapid aggressive growth, high proliferative potential. Predictions for astrocytomas of grade 4 are extremely unfavorable.

Causes of Astrocytoma

The astrocytoma tumor is formed from astrocytes subjected to the mutation process. Previously, experts believed that these cells do not perform important functions, but according to research data, it turned out that they regulate the composition of the intercellular fluid and protect nerve fibers from damage, and also absorb excess substances produced by neurons. The causes of astrocyte mutations are unknown, but a number of factors are highlighted that increase the risk of pathology:

  • Radiation exposure.
  • Bad habits.
  • Chemical Carcinogens.
  • Occupational hazards.
  • Hereditary anomalies.
  • Ecology and others.

Astrocytoma symptoms

The astrocytoma on the forum is a frequently discussed topic because the problem is serious, so you need to know the first signs that it causes. It has no specific signs. Astrocytoma in children proceeds more favorably than in adulthood. Very often, the first manifestations of astrocytoma in children and adults are unreasonable epileptic seizures.

All astrocytomas cause local focal symptoms, depending on localization, as well as general neurological and secondary signs. Focal symptoms depend on the location of the pathology and size. Predictions of astrocytomas of small volume and low grade are good because the body often compensates for disorders. According to reviews, astrocytomas most often cause the following symptoms:

  • Headache;
  • Mental disorders;
  • Cramps;
  • Behavior change;
  • Memory loss;
  • Vomiting and nausea;
  • Impaired vision, hearing;
  • Intelligence disorders;
  • Violation of gait and coordination of movements and others.

The secondary signs of astrocytoma, according to reviews, are formed in different after the development of the tumor:

  • Intracranial pressure;
  • Swelling of the brain and penetration;
  • Violation of cerebral circulation.

The prognosis of astrocytoma after the formation of such symptoms is extremely unfavorable.

Astrocytoma Diagnosis

Many patients with astrocytomas on the forum discuss methods of its diagnosis. If a brain tumor is suspected, a neurological examination and special tests are initially carried out. Then the specialist designates additional research methods:

  • MRI and CT with contrast – according to reviews with astrocytoma, this is the most informative diagnostic method, which allows determining the localization, size, degree of malignancy;
  • Angiogram;
  • Ophthalmometry;
  • Audiometry;
  • Biopsy and other procedures.

The occurrence of recurrence in astrocytoma is a frequent occurrence, regardless of the degree of malignancy, therefore it is important to undergo a periodic examination with a physician throughout life.

Astrocytoma treatment

The treatment of astrocytoma is to remove the lesion, eliminate the adverse symptoms and prevent relapse. Treatment of astrocytoma depends on the location, its size, and severity. Astrocytoma removal is the main treatment method, it is desirable to perform radical surgical interventions. But if astrocytoma is not completely removed, then it is resected to help improve the general condition of the patients and reduce the mass of the tumor. After removal, astrocytomas carry out radiation exposure, especially if the patient is more than 40 years old. After removal of astrocytoma in children, radiotherapy is used extremely rarely, as it causes little therapeutic effect, but leads to serious complications. Relapse of astrocytoma involves a reoperation.

Treatment of low-grade astrocytomas consists in performing the operation and subsequent irradiation of the pathology center. If astrocytoma removal is not possible, carry out chemo and radiotherapy. After removal of the astrocytoma, radiotherapy is also indicated.

The treatment of astrocytomas of a high degree of malignancy is the combination therapy. The first stage of treatment of astrocytoma grade 3 and 4 is surgical, but since the astrocytoma is not completely removed, after removal of the astrocytoma, radio and chemotherapy are performed. High-grade astrocytoma recurrences are very common.

When removing astrocytomas, the expediency of the operation, the severity of the neurological deficit, and the likelihood of deterioration of the general condition should be considered. Often, astrocytomas can be operated without removing the consciousness, so that the patient’s response and preservation of vital areas can be assessed. Specialists offer new modern methods of treating astrocytomas with the use of modern equipment, which is aimed at improving the efficiency of procedures and obtaining the maximum possible results.

Life prediction astrocytomas

Many patients are interested in: how many live with astrocytoma? It should be noted that the prognosis of astrocytoma depends on many factors: the effectiveness of astrocytoma removal, the length of the recovery period after astrocytoma removal, astrocytoma treatment methods, patient age, localization of the focus, astrocytoma recurrence, etc.

The life prognosis of low-grade astrocytomas is most favorable since these tumors are less aggressive. How many live with astrocytoma grade 1-2 malignancy: about 7-8 years after the removal of astrocytomas. Astrocytoma relapses occur in long-term periods but are not excluded, therefore dynamic observation of patients is necessary.

The life expectancy of astrocytomas of a high degree of malignancy is disappointing. How many people live with 3-4 types of astrocytomas: about 3 years, according to reviews, astrocytomas lead to an increased neurological deficit, astrocytomas recur quickly.

How many people live with astrocytomas: accurate predictions can be given only after clarifying the histology, evaluating the results of treatment. At the astrocytoma forum, many patients are unsubscribed who have only been diagnosed or treated. How many people live with astrocytoma, how often astrocytoma relapse is formed, what consequences – reviews on astrocytoma are different because the degree and stage of development of the pathology are individual. Forum on astrocytoma helps many patients cope with the pathology in psychological terms, to know what can be expected, help tune. For many, the astrocytoma forum is necessary so that someone can support them in a difficult situation, but astrocytoma responses vary and are individual, so this fact should be taken into account in the astrocytoma forum.

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