Thalamic or hypothalamic astrocytomas are a type of glioma, meaning that they arise in the brain’s glial or supportive tissues. These tumors develop in the thalamus—a deep-lying part of the brain responsible for identification of sensation, such as temperature, pain and touch, and a relay center for movement—or the hypothalamus—the brain area just below the thalamus responsible for hormone functioning, body temperature, sleep and appetite. Sometimes these tumors can invade both areas.
Children with thalamic or hypothalamic astrocytomas are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through our Glioma Program. Continue reading to learn more about thalamic or hypothalamic astrocystomas or visit the Glioma Program homepage to learn about our expertise and treatment options for this condition.
Since thalamic or hypothalamic astrocytomas grow relatively slowly, a child may have been having symptoms for many months prior to diagnosis, or his symptoms may appear more suddenly. Many children with gangliogliomas first present with seizures. Other symptoms are associated with increased pressure in the brain, including:
A physician may order a number of different tests to best diagnose the tumor. In addition to a physical exam, medical history and neurological exam (which tests reflexes, muscle strength, eye and mouth movement, coordination and alertness), those tests may include:
After all tests are completed, doctors will be able to outline the best treatment options.
A number of treatments may be recommended for thalamic or hypothalamic astrocytomas. Some help treat the tumor, while others address complications of the disease or side effects of treatment. These include:
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