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

A link to a list of current clinical trials is included for each treatment section. For some types or stages of cancer, there may not be any trials listed. Check with your child's doctor for clinical trials that are not listed here but may be right for your child.

Childhood Low-Grade Astrocytomas

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

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

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

  • Watchful waiting.
  • More surgery to remove the tumor.
  • Cerebrospinal fluid diversion.
  • Radiation therapy, which may include conformal radiation therapy or stereotactic radiation therapy.
  • Combination chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy.
  • A clinical trial of a new treatment.

In some cases, children who have a visual pathway glioma will be treated by watchful waiting. In other cases, treatment may include surgery or radiation therapy. 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 symptoms, such as vision problems, appear.

Children with tuberous sclerosis may develop benign (not cancer) tumors in the brain called subependymal giant cell astrocytomas (SEGAs). These tumors may be treated with drugs to shrink them instead of surgery.

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. General information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

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