Astrocytoma - Childhood Cancer
Childhood astrocytoma is a disease in which tumours are formed in the star shaped brain cells called astrocytes. The tumour may either be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Brain tumours which are benign press on the places next to them in the brain by which the area which is spread stops working in the right capacity as it should. Tumours which are malignant on the other hand grow very quickly and spread into other brain tissues. Good functioning astrocytes are the connecting network between the brain and spinal cord.
Some symptoms of Astrocytoma –
Childhood cancer are eyesight problem, feeling tired, headaches change in development or growth of the child like the head of the child may start growing fast to make room for the tumour inside.
Treatment for astrocytoma Tumour must be always done at special Cancer centres by paediatric oncologist doctors along with neuro-oncologist doctors who have extensive experience and have the latest research to their access.
The following treatments are typically used for astrocytoma in children:
- Surgery – This is the most common treatment for astrocytoma wherein the tumour is removed. If the tumour is located where it is not possible to reach by surgery then a surgical biopsy is done.
- Radiation therapy - This therapy is performed by a radiation oncologist who uses high-energy x-rays to destroy the tumour cells. This therapy is of two types namely External beam radiation therapy by which radiation is given by machines from outside the body and the second one is internal radiation therapy when radiation is given using implants
- Chemotherapy In this therapy a medical oncologist prescribes drugs to astrocytoma patients to destroy tumour cells the drugs may be in pill or capsule form which can be taken orally or may be given by an intravenous (IV) tube placed into a vein using a needle.
When the tumour is diagnosed as a high-grade tumour then in that case chemotherapy works better when it is combined with surgery and radiation therapy.
Astrocytoma treatments often have side effects. Palliative care is given which helps to reduce symptoms and improves quality of life for the children and their families
After treatment when no more tumour cells are detected and no symptoms too it is called remission but the fear remains what if the tumour will come back. In most case remissions are permanent. But if the tumour does come back after original treatment it is call a recurrent tumour. In this case all tests are done again and then the treatment is planned based on the fact as to where the tumour has recurred, what is the grade of the tumour and what was the original treatment given to the child.
Treatment in most of the cases are successful but if it cannot be cured or controlled it is termed as advanced or terminal tumour. Hospice care which is also a type of palliative care is given to people who are expected to not live more than 6 months.