Low-grade cerebellar astrocytomas are tumors that occur in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance and coordination. These tumors are classified as a gliomas, meaning that they arise in the brain’s glial or supportive tissues (they are sometimes called low-grade cerebellar gliomas). Because they are “low-grade” tumors, they’re slow-growing and less aggressive than high-grade tumors. They have a higher chance of cure, too.
Children with low-grade cerebellar astrocytomas, including cerebellar pilocytic astrocytoma, are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through our Glioma Program. Continue reading to learn more about low-grade cerebellar astrocytomas or visit the Glioma Program homepage to learn about our expertise and treatment options for this condition.
These tumors, which account for 10 to 20 percent of all childhood brain tumors, tend to occur before a child is age 10, and are most common between the ages of 6 and 9.
Since cerebellar low-grade astrocytomas grow relatively slowly, a child may have symptoms for many months before a diagnosis is made, or the symptoms may appear more suddenly. More than 90 percent of children with these tumors have symptoms related to increased pressure in the brain, including:
In addition to a complete medical history, physical examination and neurological exam, which tests reflexes, muscle strength, eye and mouth movement, and coordination and alertness, cerebellar low-grade astrocytomas are diagnosed with:
After all tests are completed, doctors will be able to outline the best treatment options.
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