What Is an Astroblastoma?

Cindy Quarters

An astroblastoma is a type of tumor usually found in either the brain or spinal cord, made up of cells with rich amounts of cytoplasm with between two and three nuclei. As a rule, the cells of an astroblastoma lie around blood vessels or around the septum of connective tissue. This type of tumor is rare and difficult to classify, and typically affects young adults, though it can be found in people of other ages as well. The prognosis for this type of brain cancer is generally very poor. Symptoms of this malignant tumor depend on where it is located.

As the astroblastoma grows and the pressure on the brain increases, headaches will increase over time.
As the astroblastoma grows and the pressure on the brain increases, headaches will increase over time.

One of the more common symptoms of this or any other type of brain tumor is the onset of headaches. The frequency and intensity of the headaches will increase over time as the astroblastoma grows and the pressure on the brain increases. Headaches will vary in character depending on which part of the brain the tumor is in. They may not appear as recognizable symptoms until the tumor is quite large and is exerting a great deal of pressure inside the skull.

An astroblastoma is typically found in either the spinal cord or the brain.
An astroblastoma is typically found in either the spinal cord or the brain.

Other common symptoms that may signal the presence of an astroblastoma are dizziness, unexplained nausea, blurred vision, and difficulty with balance. The tumor may also trigger vomiting, confusion, and seizures. Patients experiencing these types of symptoms, especially if they persist for any length of time or seem to be getting worse, should consult a physician.

One of the most common symptoms of an astroblastoma is frequent headaches.
One of the most common symptoms of an astroblastoma is frequent headaches.

An astroblastoma has a unique appearance on an x-ray, appearing dark and solid, with very little fluid in and around the area. It typically consists of multiple lobes and the solid portions tend to look bubbly. The division between the astroblastoma and the brain matter is very distinct. It tends to form around a central blood vessel or around connective tissue related to the central nervous system.

The prognosis for astroblastoma is usually quite poor.
The prognosis for astroblastoma is usually quite poor.

This malignant growth is considered to be a primary glial cell tumor. That means that it grows in the glial cells, one of the primary cell types for much of the area of the brain. These cells are more common than neurons and are found throughout the cerebellum, the midbrain, and the cerebrum as well as some other areas, making these areas among the most common places for an astroblastoma to grow.

The presence of an astroblastoma could cause blurred vision and problems with equilibrium.
The presence of an astroblastoma could cause blurred vision and problems with equilibrium.

Treatment for an astroblastoma depends in part on the location; often the tumor can be surgically removed, if it is accessible. In some cases surgery is neither practical or desirable, and attempting to remove the tumor can do more harm than good. This is also true if the patient is in poor health, as he or she may not heal well from such an operation. Radiation and chemotherapy are also commonly used, and may either destroy the growth completely or reduce its effects significantly.

Radiation and chemotherapy are commonly used to treat astroblastomas.
Radiation and chemotherapy are commonly used to treat astroblastomas.
Astroblastomas may grown in the cerebellum.
Astroblastomas may grown in the cerebellum.

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