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What Are Childhood Astrocytomas?

  • Updated: 01/11/2011

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What Are Childhood Astrocytomas?

Childhood astrocytomas are tumors in the brain or spinal cord. The tumors are an abnormal mass of tissue that results when glial cells (a type of cell that holds nerve cells in place and helps them work properly) divide more than they should or do not die when they should. An astrocyte is a type of glial cell.

The PDQ® Childhood Astrocytomas Treatment cancer information summary discusses the treatment of astrocytomas and some other glial cell tumors. Treatment is based on the grade of the tumor. The following grades are used:

Low-grade astrocytomas:

  • Pilocytic astrocytoma (such as pilomyxoid astrocytoma, pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma, and subependymal giant cell astrocytoma)
  • Diffuse astrocytoma (such as gemistocytic astrocytoma, protoplastic astrocytoma, and fibrillary astrocytoma)
  • Oligodendroglioma
  • Oligoastrocytoma

High-grade astroctyomas:

  • Anaplastic astrocytoma
  • Glioblastoma multiforme
  • Giant cell glioblastoma
  • Gliosarcoma
  • Gliomatosis cerebri
  • Anaplastic oligodendroglioma
  • Anaplastic oligoastrocytoma