The most common type of low-grade glioma is called astrocytoma. This type of brain cancer arises from small, star-shaped cells in the brain, called astrocytes. Astrocytoma is the most common form of brain cancer and can occur anywhere in the brain.
When an astrocytoma is diagnosed, the most important factors for determining treatment are the size, location and grade of the tumor, as well as the age of the patient and degree of symptoms.
Symptoms will vary, depending on where the tumor is and what part of the brain is affected. Symptoms may include:
- Visual changes/visual hallucinations
- Personality and mood changes
- Problems with memory, thinking and concentration
- Problems with coordination and balance
- Problems with sensation or fine motor skills
- Paralysis on one side of the body
Astrocytomas can be found by two types of scans:
- MRI scan — a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the inside of the body, in this case the head
- CT scan — a type of X-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the body, in this case the head
A biopsy determines the grade of the tumor and its rate of growth.
Treatment will depend on the size and position of the tumor and may include some combination of:
- Surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible
- Radiation therapy to treat the tumor and stop its growth
- Chemotherapy, generally used in conjunction with surgery and radiation therapy
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