What is an astrocytoma?

Even if it sounds like constellations, tarot and astrology - an astrocytoma is not heaven at all. Astrocytomas are among the most common forms of brain tumors. However, they can be both benign and malignant. A cure is possible, especially if the tumor can be completely removed.

Astrocytoma: severity

Depending on the severity, the World Health Organization (WHO) distinguishes four different types of astrocytomas:

  • Pilocytic astrocytoma (WHO grade I): benign, slow-growing, good chance of recovery
  • Diffuse astrocytoma (WHO grade II): still benign, slow-growing, transition into malignant tumor possible
  • Anaplastic astrocytoma (WHO grade III): malignant, rapidly growing, surgery and radiotherapy or chemotherapy necessary
  • Glioblastoma (WHO grade IV): most common and malignant form of astrocytoma, rapid and diffuse, poor prognosis

Malignant brain tumors not only grow fast but also diffuse into the tissue. This makes complete removal partly impossible. In addition, high-grade tumors often leave single cells after surgery, which causes the cancer to return quickly.

Even benign tumors can be dangerous

However, benign does not mean that the tumor is harmless, but merely that it does not grow into the surrounding tissue and metastasize. Nevertheless, even benign astrocytomas grow rapidly and can thus increase the intracranial pressure or make the outflow of the brain fluid difficult, which can be life-threatening for the patient.

What is the cause of an astrocytoma?

The causes of a brain tumor are scientifically not yet clarified. However, physicians and researchers suspect that an unhealthy lifestyle, in contrast to other cancers in a brain tumor is rather secondary. Here, the causes are rather sought in ionic radiation, hormonal and genetic stress.

Therapy of an astrocytoma

An astrocytoma consists of degenerated brain cells and arises in the supporting tissue of the brain, the glia. In therapy, an attempt is usually made to completely remove the astrocytoma surgically. In addition, drug therapy with cortisone is necessary before the procedure.

If surgery is too risky due to the location of the tumor in the brain, or the astrocytoma is benign, radiotherapy or chemotherapy can also help. High-grade astrocytomas often grow so diffuse that they can not be completely removed. Here, the surgery is then more of a reduction of the tumor mass in order to reduce the intracranial pressure and to improve the condition of the patient.

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