Astrocytoma

(Brain Tumor; Glioma)

Definition

Astrocytoma is type of cancerous brain tumor. This type of tumor begins from small, star-shaped cells in the brain called astrocytes. Astrocytes are one of several types of supporting cells in the brain. These types of cells are called glial cells. An astrocytoma is a type of the larger group of brain tumors called gliomas. Astrocytoma may occur anywhere in the brain, but particularly the cerebrum in adults and the optic nerves in children.
Brain Tumor
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Causes

The exact cause is unknown. Some possible causes of brain tumors include:
  • Heredity
  • Certain occupations
  • Environmental factors
  • Viruses

Risk Factors

The exact risk factors for astrocytomas have not been identified. Some studies suggest the following risk factors may increase your chance of this tumor:
  • Genetic disorders, including neurofibromatosis and tuberous sclerosis
  • Occupational exposure to:
    • Radiation
    • Chemicals
    • Oil refining
    • Rubber manufacturing

Symptoms

The first symptoms of any brain tumor can be caused as the tumor grows. The growth can increase pressure in the brain. Symptoms may include:
  • Headaches
  • Visual changes
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Personality changes
  • Problems with memory, thinking, and concentration
  • Problems with walking
Symptoms will vary depending on the location of the tumor. For example:
  • Frontal lobe—Gradual changes in mood and personality, loss of muscle function on one side of the body
  • Temporal lobe—Problems with coordination, speech, and memory
  • Parietal lobe—Problems with sensation, writing, or fine motor skills
  • Cerebellum—Problems with coordination and balance
  • Occipital lobe—Problems with vision, visual hallucinations

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