Circumscribed astrocytic tumors (pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma, subependymal giant cell astrocytoma, pilocytic astrocytoma) have well-defined margins, are benign, and can be cured with surgery alone.
Diffuse astrocytomas (grade II to IV) represent a spectrum of the same highly infiltrative disease, with lower grades inevitably progressing to higher grade. They share common molecular genetic abnormalities.
Low-grade astrocytomas (grade I and II) tend to be present in younger patients and have a better prognosis.
High-grade astrocytomas (grade III and IV) present in older patients and the prognosis is dismal.
There are no known predisposing factors except rare familial syndromes and prior radiation therapy.
Treatments vary depending on grade, and include surgery alone or in combination with radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy.
Astrocytic brain tumors are primary tumors of the brain arising from astrocytes. Astrocytes serve functions such as structural and metabolic support of the brain and neurons, regulation of ion concentration in the extracellular space, modulation of the synaptic transmissions, and transmitter reuptake and release. They are an important part of the blood-brain barrier.
Associate Professor of Medicine
MSA has acted as a consultant for Elekta, Incyte, AstraZeneca, Novocure, Caris Life Sciences, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Monteris Medical, AbbVie, MRI Solutions, Elsevier, and Prime oncology. MSA has received clinical trial investigations grants from Tracon, Bristol-Myers Squibb, AstraZeneca, Novartis, and Novocure.
Professor of Neurosurgery
University of California
SC has received research support from Agios, Novartis, Quest, Roche, and Schering Plough.
Dr Manmeet S. Ahluwalia and Dr Susan Chang would like to gratefully acknowledge Dr Karine Michaud, the previous contributor to this monograph. KM declares that she has no competing interests.
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