- Anaplastic Astrocytoma
Life expectancy for brain cancers such as anaplastic astrocytoma is often expressed in 5-year survival rates, that is, how many people will be alive 5 years after diagnosis.
Survival rates can vary widely by age, with younger people tending to have a better outlook than older people.
- The 5-year survival rate for grade 1 and 2 anaplastic astrocytoma in children is almost 90% following surgery
- The 5-year survival rate for adults age 20-44 is 58%
- The 5-year survival rate for adults age 45-54 is 29%
- The 5-year survival rate for adults age 55-64 is 15%
- The survival rates for those 65 or older are generally lower than the rates above
What Is Anaplastic Astrocytoma?
Anaplastic astrocytoma is a rare, cancerous (malignant) type of brain tumor that starts in star-shaped glial cells called astrocytes that surround and protect nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
About 20% of brain tumors are astrocytomas.
Astrocytomas may be grouped by grade:
- Low-grade (grade I or II) astrocytomas tend to grow slowly
- Non-infiltrating (grade I) astrocytomas
- Grade II astrocytomas
- High-grade (grade III or IV) astrocytomas tend to grow quickly and spread into the surrounding normal brain tissue
- Anaplastic (grade III) astrocytomas
- Glioblastomas (grade IV)
What Are Symptoms of Anaplastic Astrocytoma?
Symptoms of anaplastic astrocytomas can vary depending on the location and size of the tumor and may include:
- Changes in personality or mental status
- Mood changes
- Vision problems/vision loss
- Weakness in the arms and legs
- Problems with coordination
- Gait disturbances
- Memory problems
- Paralysis on the side of the body opposite the tumor (hemiplegia)
- Speech problems
- Difficulties with communication through writing (agraphia)
- Problems with fine motor skills
- Sensory abnormalities such as tingling or burning sensations (paresthesias)
- Hormonal imbalances
- Back pain
What Causes Anaplastic Astrocytoma?
The cause of most anaplastic astroctyomas is unknown and most occur sporadically. Factors that may contribute to the development of anaplastic astrocytomas include:
- Genetic predisposition (though astroctyomas are usually not inherited)
- Immunologic abnormalities
- Environmental factors (e.g., exposure to ultraviolet rays, certain chemicals, ionizing radiation)
Some anaplastic astrocytomas are associated with a few rare, genetic disorders, such as:
- Neurofibromatosis type I
- Li-Fraumeni syndrome
- Turcot syndrome
- Tuberous sclerosis
How Is Anaplastic Astrocytoma Diagnosed?
Anaplastic astrocytoma is diagnosed with a patient history and physical examination, along with tests such as:
What Is the Treatment for Anaplastic Astrocytoma?
Treatment for anaplastic astrocytoma may include one or more of the following:
- Surgical removal of the tumor, usually via craniotomy (surgical opening made in the skull)
- Surgery to help with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow blockage
- Surgery to put in a ventricular access catheter
- Radiation therapy
- External beam radiation therapy (EBRT)
- Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT)
- Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
- Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT)
- Conformal proton beam radiation therapy
- Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)/stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT)
- Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT)
- Brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy)
- Whole brain and spinal cord radiation therapy (craniospinal radiation)
- Targeted drug therapy
- Other drug treatments
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