Astrocytomas are cancerous tumors that develop for unknown reasons in the astrocytes (star-shaped cells that support nerve cells) in the brain and spinal cord. Some astrocytomas are slow growing and unlikely to spread, while others are highly aggressive. Based on these characteristics, the cancer can be classified into one of four grades. In addition to a tumor’s grade, its location and size are key considerations in determining the optimal astrocytoma treatment approach. A patient’s age, general health and preferences are also taken into account.
The goal of astrocytoma treatment is to remove as much of a tumor as possible while minimizing the impact on surrounding healthy tissue, which may control speech, movement or other critical bodily functions. To accomplish this, a surgical procedure such as a craniotomy may be recommended. In some cases, chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be administered before surgery to shrink a tumor, after surgery to target residual cancer cells or as a primary form of treatment if a tumor cannot be surgically removed.
How is an astrocytoma treatment approach determined?
Because there is no standard therapy for astrocytoma, treatment decisions are best made through a team effort. In the Neuro-Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, each patient’s treatment plan is collaboratively developed based on input from multiple specialists. Our diverse and highly experienced team includes neurologists, neuroradiologists, neurosurgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, neuropathologists, neuropsychologists and other medical professionals. As a high-volume cancer center, Moffitt treats many patients with brain cancer, including some with rare and difficult-to-reach tumors. By taking an individualized approach to astrocytoma treatment, we help ensure that each patient achieves the best possible outcome and quality of life.
If you’ve been diagnosed with an astrocytoma and would like to explore your treatment options with a neuro-oncologist at Moffitt, you can request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online. We do not require referrals.