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What Is a Childhood Astrocytoma?

  • An astrocytoma is a brain tumor that originates from star-shaped cells called astrocytes. Astrocytes are a kind of glial cell, cells that support and nourish neurons in the brain. Like other kinds of gliomas (tumors that arise from glial cells), astrocytomas are divided into four grades, depending on their cells' appearance under a microscope; the higher a tumor's grade number, the more severe it is. Grades 1 and 2 are considered low-grade astrocytomas, and grades 3 and 4 are considered high-grade astrocytomas.

    Most astrocytomas are both highly treatable and highly curable. The most common kind of astrocytoma, called a pilocytic astrocytoma, has a cure rate over 90 percent.

    Astrocytoma Treatment at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's

    Children and adolescents with astrocytomas are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's through the Brain Tumor Center's Glioma Program, one of the largest and most experienced pediatric glioma programs in the world. Our glioma specialists — a team of neuro-oncologists, surgeons, pathologists and radiation oncologists — focus solely on the care of children diagnosed with gliomas

    Learn more

    Find in-depth information on astroctyomas on the Dana-Farber/Boston Children's website, including answers to:

    • What are the symptoms of astrocytomas?
    • How are astrocytomas diagnosed?
    • How are astrocytomas treated?
    • What is the latest research on astrocytomas?
    • What is the long-term outlook for children with astrocytomas?