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Cancer Health Center

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Childhood Astrocytomas Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Treatment Options for Childhood Astrocytomas

Newly Diagnosed Childhood Low-Grade Astrocytomas

When the tumor is first diagnosed, treatment for childhood low-grade astrocytoma depends where the tumor is, and is usually surgery. An MRI is done after surgery to see if there is tumor remaining.

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If the tumor was completely removed by surgery, more treatment may not be needed and the child is closely watched to see if signs or symptoms appear or change. This is called observation.

If there is tumor remaining after surgery, treatment may include the following:

  • Observation.
  • A second surgery to remove the tumor.
  • Radiation therapy, which may include conformal radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy, or stereotactic radiation therapy, when the tumor begins to grow again.
  • Combination chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy.
  • A clinical trial of targeted therapy with selumetinib.

In some cases, observation is used for children who have a visual pathway glioma. In other cases, treatment may include surgery to remove the tumor, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. A goal of treatment is to save as much vision as possible. The effect of tumor growth on the child's vision will be closely followed during treatment.

Children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) may not need treatment unless the tumor grows or signs or symptoms, such as vision problems, appear. When the tumor grows or signs or symptoms appear, treatment may include surgery to remove the tumor, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.

Children with tuberous sclerosis may develop benign (not cancer) tumors in the brain called subependymal giant cell astrocytomas (SEGAs). Targeted therapy with everolimus or sirolimus may be used instead of surgery, to shrink the tumors.

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with childhood low-grade untreated astrocytoma or other tumor of glial origin. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug. Talk with your child's doctor about clinical trials that may be right for your child. General information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

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