Cerebellar pilocytic astrocytomas are brain tumors that arise from glial cells in the brain called astrocytomas, which make up the supportive network of the brain, providing structural support and other functions.
These tumors, which are the most common type of low-grade glioma, grow in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance and coordination. Grade I tumors remain in one small focal area of the brain, while grade II tumors tend to spread out into surrounding areas. A chromosomal abnormality involving the BRAF gene is implicated in a large percentage of these tumors.
Children with 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 Cerebellar Pilocytic Astrocytomas or visit the Glioma Program homepage to learn about our expertise and treatment options for this condition.
Due to the relatively slow growth of cerebellar pilocytic astrocytomas, children may have symptoms for many months before seeing a doctor. Some children have more sudden onset of symptoms due to blockage of cerebrospinal fluid.
The most common symptoms are related to increased pressure within the brain, including:
In addition to a complete physical examination, doctors diagnose cerebellar pilocytic astrocytoma with diagnostic imaging, including a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a computerized tomography (CT or CAT) scan if there is evidence of cerebrospinal fluid blockage. In some cases a biopsy is required.
After all tests are completed, doctors will be able to outline the best treatment options.
The most common treatments for cerebellar pilocytic astrocytoma are:
Mark Kieran MD discusses multidisciplinary approaches to treating brain tumors; sponsored by American Brain Tumor Association.