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Childhood Astrocytoma

Healthy astrocytes provide the connecting network of the brain and spinal cord.

The brain and spinal column make up the Central Nervous System (CNS). 
ASTROCYTOMA is a type of CNS tumor that forms in cells called ASTROCYTES. They provide the connecting network of the brain and spinal cord. When the CNS is damaged, astrocytes form scar tissue. Astrocytoma begins when astrocytes change and grow out of control, forming a mass called a tumor.



Astrocytoma can occur throughout the CNS, including in the following places:
THE CEREBELLUM: controls movement, balance, and posture.
THE CEREBRUM: controls motor activities and talking.
THE DIENCEPHALON: controls vision, hormone production, and arm and leg movement.
THE BRAIN STEM: controls eye and facial movement, arm and leg movement, and breathing.
THE SPINAL CORD: controls sensation and arm and leg motor function.
Benign brain tumors grow and press on nearby areas of the brain and rarely spread into other tissues. Malignant brain tumors are likely to grow quickly and spread into other brain tissue. When a tumor grows into or presses on an area of the brain, it may stop that part of the brain from working the way it should. Both benign and malignant brain tumors can cause signs and symptoms and almost all need treatment.
Children with astrocytoma may experience the following symptoms or signs:
*Headaches.
*Feeling tired and listless.
*Seizures not related to a high fever.
*Eyesight problems, such as double vision.
*Changed growth or development.
*In a baby, the only symptom may be that the head is growing too fast. An infant’s skull can expand to make room for a growing tumor in the brain.

If you are concerned about any changes your child experiences, the Institute of Interventional Oncology (IDOI México) urges you to talk with your child’s doctor. Sometimes, the cause of a symptom may be a different medical condition that is not a tumor.

For most tumor types, a biopsy is the only sure way to know if an area of the body has a tumor. If a biopsy is not possible, the doctor may suggest other tests. If the diagnosis is astrocytoma, these results also help the doctor describe the tumor. This is called staging and grading.