Diseases & Conditions



Synonyms of Astrocytoma

    Disorder Subdivisions

    • grade I astrocytoma
    • grade II astrocytoma
    • grade III astrocytoma
    • grade IV astrocytoma

    General Discussion
    An astrocytoma is a tumor that arises from the star-shaped cells (astrocytes) that form the supportive tissue of the brain. Other supportive cells of the brain include oligodendrocytes and ependymal cells. Collectively, these cells are known as glial cells and the tissue they form is known as glial tissue. Tumors that arise from the glial tissue, including astrocytomas, are collectively referred to as gliomas.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies astrocytomas into four grades depending on how fast they are growing and the likelihood that they will spread (infiltrate) to nearby brain tissue. Noninfiltrating astrocytomas usually grow more slowly than the infiltrating forms. Infiltrating, or diffuse astrocytomas are more common than noninfiltrating astrocytomas. They are generally more common in men and are most common in the cerebral hemispheres of adult patients. In children they occur both in the cerebral hemispheres as well as the brain stem. Tumors from oligodendrocytes (oligodendrodendrogliomas) are also in the category of infiltrating gliomas and can occasionally be difficult to distinguish from astrocytomas. Some infiltrating gliomas are categorized as mixed oligodendroglioma-astrocytoma (oligoastrocytoma).

    Grade I astrocytoma is usually a noninfiltrating tumor. The most common type of grade I astrocytoma is pilocytic astrocytoma which is also known as juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma or JPA. This tumor grows slowly but can become very large. Pilocytic astrocytoma occurs most often in the cerebellum, cerebrum, optic nerve pathway and brainstem. This tumor occurs most often in children and teens and accounts for 2% of all brain tumors.
    Grade II astrocytoma is also called low-grade astrocytoma or diffuse astrocytoma and is usually an infiltrating tumor. This tumor grows relatively slowly and usually does not have well-defined borders. It occurs most often in adults between the ages of 20 and 40.

    Grade III astrocytoma is also called anaplastic (malignant) astrocytoma because this tumor grows more quickly than a grade II astrocytoma. Anaplastic astrocytoma occurs most often in adults between the ages of 30 and 50, and accounts for 4% of all brain tumors.

    Grade IV astrocytoma is also called glioblastoma or GBM and is the most aggressive type of nervous system tumor. It is also referred to as glioblastoma multiforme because of its wide variety of appearances under the microscope. Rarely, non-glial tissue elements can exist in a glioblastoma. The most common variant of GBM showing these additional tissue elements is called a mixed glioblastoma-sarcoma, or gliosarcoma. GBM occurs most often in adults between the ages of 50 and 80, is more common in men, and accounts for 23% of all primary brain tumors.

    Organizations related to Astrocytoma
    • American Brain Tumor Association
      2720 River Road
      Des Plaines IL 60018
      Phone #: 847-827-9910
      800 #: 800-886-2282
      e-mail: [email protected]
      Home page: http://www.abta.org
    • Cancer.Net
      American Society of Clinical Oncology
      Alexandria VA 22314
      Phone #: 571-483-1780
      800 #: 888-651-3038
      e-mail: [email protected]
      Home page: http://www.cancer.net/patient
    • Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation
      P.O. Box 498
      Kensington MD 20895-0498
      Phone #: 301-962-3520
      800 #: 800-366-2223
      e-mail: [email protected],org
      Home page: http://www.candlelighters.org
    • FightJPA.org
      114 Huntington Road
      Brighten MA 02135
      Phone #: N/A
      800 #: N/A
      e-mail: [email protected]
      Home page: http://www.fightJPA.org
    • Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center
      McLean Hospital
      Belmont MA 02478
      Phone #: 617-855-2400
      800 #: 800-272-4622
      e-mail: [email protected]
      Home page: http://www.brainbank.mclean.org
    • MUMS (Mothers United for Moral Support, Inc) National Parent-to-Parent Network
      150 Custer Court
      Green Bay WI 54301-1243
      Phone #: 920-336-5333
      800 #: 877-336-5333
      e-mail: [email protected]
      Home page: http://www.netnet.net/mums/
    • Madisons Foundation
      PO Box 241956
      Los Angeles CA 90024
      Phone #: 310-264-0826
      800 #: N/A
      e-mail: [email protected]
      Home page: http://www.madisonsfoundation.org
    • National Brain Tumor Society
      124 Watertown Street, Suite 2D
      Watertown MA 02472
      Phone #: 617-924-9997
      800 #: (80-0) -770-8287
      e-mail: [email protected]
      Home page: http://www.braintumor.org
    • Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation
      302 Ridgefield Court
      Asheville NC 28806
      Phone #: 828-665-6891
      800 #: 800-253-6530
      e-mail: N/A
      Home page: http://www.pbtfus.org

    For a Complete Report

    This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc. ? (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be obtained for a small fee by visiting the NORD website. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational treatments (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, see http://www.rarediseases.org/search/rdblist.html