Childhood Astrocytomas- Diagnosis & Treatment
Medikoe Health Expert
Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru Feb 9, 2017
Brain and Spinal column together make the Central Nervous System, which controls all main functions of our body, like thought, speech, and strength. Astrocytomas is a kind CNS (Central Nervous System) tumor that originates from star-shaped cells called astrocytes. An astrocyte is a type of glial cell, which holds nerve cell in place, bring food and oxygen and also protect them from diseases, such as infection. Tumors that occurs from glial cells are called Gliomas; an astrocytoma is a type of glioma.
Childhood Astrocytomas is a disease in which cancerous or non-cancerous cells begin to form in the brain tissues. Astrocytomas are tumors that form in brain cells and are the most common type of tumors diagnosed in children. Begin in astrocytes in the brain (primary brain tumors). Metastatic brain tumors are formed by cancer cells that begin in other parts of the body and spread to the brain. It can occur in both children and adults, but treatment for a child may be different than an adult.
Causes of most of the childhood brain tumors are not known. Take opinion from your child’s doctor if you think your child may be at risk. Possible risk factors according to experts include-
- Radiation therapy of the brain in past
- Genetic disorders, like NF1 ( neurofibromatosis type 1) tuberous sclerosis
- A Morning Headache
- A Headache that Disappears after Vomiting
- Impaired Vision or Hearing
- Loss of Balance and trouble in walking
- Worsening handwriting and slow speech
- Change or weakness on one side of the body
- Increase in the size of the head ( in infants)
These could be the symptoms of astrocytoma or another condition which is confirmed post-physical, neuro examinations, and scanning. Although the cause is unknown, possible risk factors include exposure to radiation therapy and genetic disorders. This condition is usually treated by surgically removing the tumor after performing a biopsy.
A doctor will take a child’s medical history and carry out both physical and neurological examinations. And, also some tests, including-
- CT Scan- With a series of X-rays and a computer for a detailed picture of the body
- MRI- With large magnets, radio waves, and computer to see cancer cells more clearly
- Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS)- It can find the metabolites inside the tumor. And, also growth in an active tumor or a mass of radiation damage.
- Lumbar Puncture- In this small amount of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) collected from the lower back (into the spinal canal) with the help of needle to check the brain and spinal cord for cancer cells.
- PET Scan- In this, Radioactive sugar injected into the bloodstream. Cancer cells use more sugar than normal cells, so sugar will get collected in cancer cells. With the help of a specific camera, it becomes easy to spot cancer cells in different areas of the body, even when other tests can't see it.
- Biopsy- First doctors remove tumor cells and send them for lab testing to find out how quickly it is growing.
- Blood Tests- Blood samples collected to check the substances that are released tumors.
Approach to treat patient is personalized for each which depends on several factors, including the tumor’s type, stage and location.
Some options doctor may suggest include-
- Surgery- To remove tumor if possible
- Chemotherapy- It can be after or before surgery to shrink the tumor or to eliminate any remaining tumor cells.
- Radiation Therapy- It used based on which type of glioma is present. It used for high- grade gliomas otherwise, it is avoidable because of long- term side effects.
Treatment for childhood astrocytomas may cause side effects, including Physical problems, changes in mood, feeling, thinking, learning, or memory. Even it can cause second cancer, a new type of cancer.
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