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Astrocytoma is a widespread type of brain tumor which mostly develops in cerebrum. Cerebrum is the largest part of human brain. Cells which are called astrocytes in this case become cancerous. It is also known as cancer of astrocytes. Astrocytes are supporting and adjunct cells of the brain. Astrocytoma is actually a subtype of the larger groups of brain malignant formations, which are called glioblastomas or simply gliomas. Cancer of astrocytes is considered to be the most common form of glioma. Its progression can occur in any place of the brain, but it is more widespread in cerebellum or brain stem. Brain stem is responsible for connection of brain nerve endings with spinal cord.
Sometimes astrocytoma can develop in the optical nerve. Optical nerve astrocytoma is more widespread among children. Optical nerve runs from the eye nerve endings to the brain.
It may actually develop at any age. Tumor is pale pink in its color. Density of malignant formation is virtually identical to brain matter. Usually it is separated from the substance form of the brain, but there are occasions when it is not possible to define the boundaries of astrocytoma. Tumors also often form cysts that grow slowly, but can reach significantly large sizes. In general, the formation of cysts in astrocytomas occurs among children. Among adults astrocytomas most often develop in the right or left hemispheres of the brain and among children - in the cerebellar hemispheres, where nodes have cysts. Astrocytoma can be fully removed only with surgery.
Brain malignant formations can be primary, when they arise from brain tissue, meninges and cranial nerves (glioblastoma, glioma) and secondary, when they originate from metastases that spread and grow with celerity from other kinds of cancerous formations. Glioblastoma is usually inoperable and that`s why it is complicated to treat and cure it.
Although the exact risk factors for astrocytoma malignant formation have not been identified, some studies indicate that the following risk factors increase the possibility of astrocytoma brain cancer development:
To diagnose astrocytoma brain tumor, oncologists must find and identify the symptoms, learn the disease history of patient and eliminate other diseases. First of all, it is necessary to conduct general physical examination. Diagnosis of cerebral astrocytoma may include the following diagnostic procedures: