Astrocytoma

Introduction

Brain Tumor Treatment with Banerji Protocols - homeopathy360

Astrocytomas are a type of brain tumour. They originate in a particular kind of glial cells, star-shaped brain cells in the cerebrum called astrocytes. This type of tumour does not usually spread outside the brain and spinal cord and it does not usually affect other organs. Astrocytomas are the most common glioma and can occur in most parts of the brain and occasionally in the spinal cord. The median survival of patients with glioma has improved over the past few years but is still only 15 months, with few patients living more than two years. Astrocytomas make up approximately 50% of all primary brain tumours. 

Astrocytoma signs and symptoms depend on the location of your tumour. Astrocytomas that occur in the brain can cause seizures, headaches and nausea. Astrocytomas that occur in the spinal cord can cause weakness and disability in the area affected by the growing tumour. Brain cancer rates are found to be higher in more developed countries than in less developed countries. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2021, in the U.S., about 24,530 individuals will be diagnosed with brain or spine cancer and about 18,600 individuals will die of brain or spinal cord tumours. There are no precise guidelines because the exact cause of astrocytoma is not known.

Astrocytoma - Overview - Mayo Clinic

Brain Anatomy And Function

The brain and the spinal cord make up the central nervous system (CNS). The brain, an extremely complex organ, contains more than a trillion neurons. These neurons work together to give us the ability to understand, comprehend, reason, and remember. Since many regions of the brain intricately work together to accomplish certain tasks, it may be difficult to pinpoint a specific region that is solely responsible for certain brain activity. The 3 main parts of the brain are the forebrain, the cerebellum, and the brain stem.  The forebrain includes the cerebrum and the diencephalon. The cerebrum is separated into a left and a right hemisphere and is the most frontal part of the brain. The diencephalon includes parts of the brain such as the thalamus and hypothalamus, which are responsible for controlling, emotion, pain, body temperature, and stress. More information on these parts is found below. The brain and spinal cord are protected by several layers of connective membrane tissue, collectively known as the meninges. The CNS is also protected by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a colourless fluid that is secreted by four hollow structures of the brain known as ventricles. The CSF helps absorb shocks or blows to the head and is responsible for regulating and maintaining the proper chemical environment necessary for optimal CNS function.

Functions of the brain regions:

  • Forebrain: The forebrain consists of the cerebrum and the diencephalon. This region is responsible for perception, learning, memory, skeletal-muscle coordination, awareness, regulation of behaviors (e.g. eating and drinking), control of body temperature, and the generation of emotions. 
  • Cerebellum: The cerebellum is responsible for the coordination of movement and the control of posture and balance.
  • Brain stem: The brain stem consists of the midbrain, pons, and medulla oblongata. The brainstem relays information between the spinal cord, forebrain, and cerebellum, and it has several important functions of its own. The brainstem controls movement, breathing, heart functions, and the regulation of sleep/consciousness.

Cells of the brain:

The cells that are most prevalent in brain cancer are:

  • Nerve cells (neurons): Nerve cells are responsible for transmitting signals from the brain to the spinal cord and the body, and these cells are also responsible for bringing signals from the rest of the body back to the brain.
  • Glial cells: Glial cells support neurons by insulating them, feeding them, and providing them with structural support. These cells are also responsible for getting rid of dead neurons. There are several different types of glial cells, each with its own function. Glial cell types include astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and ependymal cells.

Types of Brain Cancer

1.Primary brain cancer refers to malignant tumours that form either in the brain or in the nerves originating in the brain. Brain cancer does not frequently spread outside of the central nervous system (CNS). Primary brain cancer makes up 2% to 3% of all new cancer cases in adults and is the second most common form of childhood cancer. Brain cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in children aged 1-19 years and primary brain cancers caused 40% of cancer deaths in adults from 2012-2016. 

2.Secondary brain cancer refers to malignant tumours that originated elsewhere but have spread to the brain. Secondary brain cancer is more common than primary brain cancer. Lung, breast, kidney, colon, and skin cancers are among the most common cancers that spread to your brain. 

Brain Cancer Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Grades of astrocytoma

Glioma - Etymology, Anatomy and Essential Information
  • Low-grade tumor. A low-grade tumor has cells that look similar to healthy CNS cells under a microscope. The tumor usually does not grow quickly or spread to other parts of the CNS. However, the tumor can sometimes grow and spread quickly. Tumors may appear in multiple spots in the brain, especially when the disease is linked with neurofibromatosis.
  • High-grade tumor. A high-grade tumor has cells that do not look similar to healthy astrocytes. This type of tumor grows quickly and can spread throughout the CNS.
  • Recurrent astrocytoma. Recurrent astrocytoma is a tumor that has come back after treatment. Astrocytoma usually recurs near where it first started. If the tumor does return, there will be another round of tests to learn about the extent of the recurrence. These tests and scans are often similar to those done at the time of the original diagnosis. 

Diagnosis

1.Neurological exam. During a neurological exam, your doctor will ask you about your signs and symptoms.  Problems in one or more of these areas may provide clues about the part of your brain that could be affected by a brain tumour.

2.Imaging tests. Imaging tests can help your doctor determine the location and size of your brain tumour. MRI is often used to diagnose brain tumours. 

3.Biopsy.  A biopsy can be done with a needle before surgery or during surgery to remove your astrocytoma, depending on your particular situation and the location of your tumour. The sample of the suspicious tissue is analyzed in a laboratory to determine the types of cells and their level of aggressiveness.

Treatment

Astrocytoma treatments include:

1. Surgery to remove the astrocytoma- The goal is to remove all of cancer, but sometimes the astrocytoma is located near sensitive brain tissue that makes that too risky.

2. Radiation therapy- Radiation therapy might be recommended after surgery if your cancer wasn’t removed completely or if there’s an increased risk your cancer will return. 

3. Chemotherapy- Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells.  In certain situations, chemotherapy medicine can be placed in your brain after surgery where it slowly dissolves and releases the medication. Chemotherapy is often used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that might remain.

4. Clinical trials- Clinical trials are studies of new treatments. These studies give you a chance to try the latest treatment options, but the risk of side effects may not be known. 
5. Supportive (palliative) care- Palliative care is specialized medical care that focuses on providing relief from pain and other symptoms of a serious illness. Palliative care can be used while undergoing other aggressive treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

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