Skip to content

Brain Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Childhood Astrocytomas Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Treatment of Childhood Low-Grade Astrocytomas

To determine and implement optimal management, treatment is often guided by a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists who have experience treating childhood brain tumors.

In infants and young children, low-grade astrocytomas presenting in the hypothalamus make surgery difficult; consequently, biopsies are not always done. This is especially true in patients with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1).[1] When associated with NF1, tumors may be of multifocal origin.

Recommended Related to Brain Cancer

Brain Cancer Clinical Trials

Major pharmaceutical companies continually research and develop new medications and treatments for brain cancer, which must be shown to be safe and effective before doctors can prescribe them to patients. Through clinical trials, researchers test the effects of new medications on a group of volunteers with brain cancer. Following a strict protocol and using carefully controlled conditions, researchers evaluate the investigational drugs under development and measure the ability of the new drug to...

Read the Brain Cancer Clinical Trials article > >

For children with low-grade optic pathway astrocytomas, treatment options should be considered not only to improve survival but also to stabilize visual function.[2,3]

Treatment of Newly Diagnosed Childhood Low-Grade Astrocytomas

Standard treatment options for newly diagnosed childhood low-grade astrocytomas include the following:

  1. Observation.
  2. Surgery.
  3. Adjuvant therapy.

Observation

Observation is an option for patients with NF1 or nonprogressive masses.[4,5,6,7] Spontaneous regressions of optic pathway gliomas have been reported in children with and without NF1.[8,9,10]

Surgery

Surgical resection is the primary treatment for childhood low-grade astrocytoma [1,4,5,11] and surgical feasibility is determined by tumor location.

  • Cerebellum: Complete or near-complete removal can be obtained in 90% to 95% of patients with pilocytic tumors that occur in the cerebellum.[11]
  • Optic nerve: For children with isolated optic nerve lesions and progressive symptoms, complete surgical resection, while curative, generally results in blindness in the affected eye.
  • Midline structures (hypothalamus, thalamus, brain stem, and spinal cord): Low-grade astrocytomas that occur in midline structures can be aggressively resected, with resultant long-term disease control;[8,9,12]; [13][Level of evidence: 3iiiA] however, such resection may result in significant neurologic sequelae, especially in children younger than 2 years at diagnosis.[8]; [14][Level of evidence: 3iC] Because of the infiltrative nature of some deep-seated lesions, extensive surgical resection may not be appropriate and biopsy only should be considered.[15][Level of evidence: 3iiiDiii]
  • Cerebrum: Circumscribed, grade I hemispheric tumors are often amenable to complete surgical resection.[16]
  • Diffuse: Diffuse astrocytomas may be less amenable to total resection, and this may contribute to the poorer outcome.
    1|2|3|4|5|6|7
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    doctor and patient
    How to know when it’s time for home care
    doctory with x-ray
    Here are 10 to know.
     
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
     
    Malignant Gliomas
    Article
    Pets Improve Your Health
    SLIDESHOW
     
    Headache Emergencies
    Video
    life after a brain tumor
    VIDEO
     

    Would you consider trying alternative or complementary therapies?