Astrocytomas are tumors that originate from astrocytes, which are star-shaped cells that make up the supportive or “glue-like” tissue of the brain. These are the most common type of glioma (malignant brain tumor). They are most commonly found in the main part of the brain (the cerebrum). Astrocytomas are more common in adults, particularly middle-aged men, but can develop in people of all ages.

Astrocytomas are graded on a scale from I to IV based on how abnormal the cells look. There are both low-grade and high-grade astrocytomas. Low-grade astrocytomas grow slowly and are usually localized. High-grade astrocytomas grow rapidly and require a different type of treatment. Most astrocytoma tumors are low-grade in children and high-grade in adults.

The different types of astrocytoma tumors are:

  • Anaplastic Astrocytoma – tend to have tentacle-like projections that grow into surrounding tissue, making them difficult to completely remove during surgery.
  • Astrocytoma Grade IV (also called glioblastoma, previously named glioblastoma multiforme, grade IV glioblastoma, and GBM) – There are two types of grade IV astrocytoma—primary, or de novo, and secondary. They may contain cystic material, calcium deposits, blood vessels, and/or a mixed grade of cells.
  • Diffuse Astrocytoma (also called low-grade or astrocytoma grade II) Types: fibrillary, gemistocytic, and protoplasmic astrocytoma – They tend to contain microcysts and mucous-like fluid.
  • Pilocytic Astrocytoma (also called juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma) – These generally form sacs of fluid (cysts) or may be enclosed within a cyst.
  • Subependymal Giant Cell Astrocytoma – subependymal giant cell astrocytomas are ventricular tumors associated with tuberous sclerosis.

Astrocytoma Symptoms

Astrocytomas grow in various parts of the brain and nervous system, including the cerebrum, the cerebellum, the brainstem, the central areas of the brain and the spinal cord. As astrocytoma tumors grow, they press against the brain and can cause the following symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Memory loss
  • Changes in behavior

Getting Diagnosed

Our team of specialists provides the most up-to-date evaluations using the latest diagnostic and imaging technology.

We work very closely with the departments of Neurosurgery, Interventional Neuroradiology, Neurology and Radiation Oncology, as well as the Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Center and Skull Base Center to ensure an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate treatment for the best outcome.


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The Neuroscience Institute

We are dedicated to the world-class diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases and disorders.