High-Grade Astrocytoma

Whenever possible, children with malignant astrocytomas undergo surgery followed by radiation therapy and some form of chemotherapy. Children with high-grade astrocytomas are often treated in clinical trials since no effective treatment has yet been identified.

External beam radiation therapy to the site where the tumor was removed has been shown to improve survival when compared to surgery alone, and is therefore considered the standard of care. The theory is that radiation can kill cancer cells that may be left behind after the surgery.

Although these tumors often grow into the brain tissue, children will do better if all of the tumor that is seen on the scan can be removed. Advanced imaging tools now allow the mapping of important pathways in the brain so that surgery can be performed more safely, reducing the likelihood of causing major neurologic deficits.

For most patients with high-grade astrocytomas, even with aggressive initial treatment, the tumor will return. Once there is evidence of tumor recurrence, there are several options available, including additional surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The best treatment for a recurrence depends on several factors, such as the tumor's location, time from initial diagnosis and prior treatment. A variety of experimental therapies are also available through clinical trials, and your neuro-oncologist can discuss the different studies with you in detail.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

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Pediatric Brain Center

Pediatric Brain Tumor Center
1825 Fourth St., Sixth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
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