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Astrocytoma Definition & Overview


Astrocytoma is type of brain tumor. It is a malignant tumor, cancer. This type of tumor arises from small, star-shaped cells in the brain. They are called astrocytes. Astrocytes are one of several types of supporting cells in the brain. These type of cells are called glial cells. An astrocytoma is a subtype of the larger group of brain tumors called gliomas.

Astrocytoma is the most common form of glioma. It may occur anywhere in the brain. It is most commonly found in:

  • The cerebrum in adults—the largest part of the brain
  • The cerebellum—a smaller part of the brain in the rear
  • Brainstem—connects to the spinal cord
  • Optic nerves in children—nerve that leads from the brain to the eye

Brain Tumor

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When an astrocytoma is diagnosed, the most important factors are:

  • Grade of tumor (how aggressive it appears when viewed microscopically)
  • Size
  • Location
  • Degree of neurological side effects produced by the tumor
  • Age of the patient

These factors will determine the symptoms, prognosis, and treatment.

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