Pediatric Pilocytic Astrocytoma

Pediatric Pilocytic Astrocytoma

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Summary

Pilocytic astrocytomas are brain tumors that can cause a variety of symptoms, including increased pressure within the brain.

Expanded overview

Pilocytic astrocytoma is a rare childhood brain tumor. Usually, these are benign (non-cancerous), slow growing tumors that don’t spread to the surrounding brain tissue. A pilocytic astrocytoma develops from brain cells known as astrocytes. Astrocytes surround and protect nerve cells found within the brain and spinal cord.

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies pilocytic astrocytomas as Grade I tumors (the lowest, least harmful grade), because they are benign (non-cancerous) and are unlikely to become malignant (cancerous) over time (like some other types of astrocytomas).

Symptoms

Most symptoms of pilocytic astrocytomas are due to increased pressure on the brain, including:

  • Changes in personality or mental status
  • Difficulty balancing
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Problems with vision
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting

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