Cerebellar astrocytoma – A type of brain tumor

Astrocyte (Credit: thebrain.mcgill.ca)Cerebellar astrocytoma is a type of brain tumor that can arise from many different types of cells within the brain but more commonly it arises from a type of glial (supporting) tissue in the nervous system. Tumors are usually called by the name of cells or tissue from which it arises. In the same way, tumors arising from astrocytes are referred to as astrocytomas.

Cerebellar astrocytoma can be malignant or benign. Most commonly these tumors most commonly occur during the first 2 decades of life.

Type of tumor:

It can be cystic, solid or a combination of both. It is generally slow-growing form of tumor with less ability to spread to the other parts of the body.

Symptoms:

This tumor can increase pressure within the skull due to its increased space and swelling caused by it in the surrounding brain. The symptoms usually appear after a particular time of swelling and increased tumor mass. Increased intracranial pressure may result in headache that is severe at night or early in the morning, nausea, lethargy, confusion and disorientation. Furthermore, localized brain dysfunction may result in the numbness or weakness of an arm or leg, loss of vision, difficulties with speech, and impaired memory and judgment.

Treatment:

In children, low-grade cerebral astrocytomas are usually treated with complete surgical removal while radiation is kept for the recurrent tumors. On the other hand in adults, radiation therapy is preferred.

If the tumor appears at a place, where it cannot be removed and already the body has received much radiation, chemotherapy with drugs such as carboplatin or temozolomide may be considered.

Further Reading:

http://www.healthcentral.com/encyclopedia/408/505.html accessed February 16, 2013

“DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology, Volume 1” by “Vincent T DeVita, Jr M.D., Theodore S. Lawrence, Steven A. Rosenberg”

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