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Astrocytoma is a type of tumor that affects the brain. Unlike other tumors, an astrocytoma tumor usually doesn’t spread throughout the rest of the body. The best treatment for astrocytoma depends on the severity of your condition and how aggressive the tumor is. For example, the lowest grades of astrocytoma tumors are often successfully removed through surgery. High grade tumors can often not be completely removed successfully because the cells of the tumor spread around the brain.
There are four grades of astrocytoma tumor, and astrocytoma treatment depends on which type is present. A grade one tumor is the slowest growing while grade four is the fastest. Grade one astrocytoma treatment is more likely to be successful than grade four treatment.
If the tumor is a slow growing grade one condition then surgery may not be immediately required. This is because this type of tumors may not develop quickly and surgery could actually cause more problems. In this situation, the best astrocytoma treatment is usually to monitor the condition over an extended period of time to establish the speed of growth and whether surgery is required.
A grade two tumor often requires surgery — usually within several weeks of the initial diagnosis. Although the entire tumor may not be removed it is often possible to remove enough so that brain function isn’t impaired although the tumor may grow back over time. In many cases, radiotherapy will be used after surgery to help control the condition. Chemotherapy is usually only required if the tumor is deep inside the brain.
Grade three and four astrocytoma tumors are often more difficult to treat. Surgery will nearly always be required to remove as much as possible of the tumor in order to reduce symptoms. As with grade two surgery this will often be followed up by radiotherapy. The length of radiotherapy depends on the condition of the patient. For example, a frail patient may not be able to stand up to a long period of radiotherapy.
Astrocytoma treatment for high grade tumors is often unsuccessful even using the best methods that are currently available. For this reason new techniques are being developed that include more intensive radiotherapy that focuses only on the tumor rather than other regions of the brain. Chemotherapy is also commonly used for high grade tumors in an attempt to control the growth.
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