Low-grade Astrocytoma

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Health Facts for You

Brain Tumors in Adults

The UW Health Brain Tumor Center in Madison, Wisconsin provides comprehensive treatment for patients with brain tumors. Working in concert with the UW Carbone Cancer Center, our multidisciplinary team sees more than 1,200 brain tumor patients annually with common as well as rare brain cancers.


What are low-grade astrocytomas?


Low-grade astrocytomas, also called grade 2 astrocytomas, are gliomas – tumors that develop from the glial cells (called astrocytomas) that support nervous tissue.


Astrocytoma tumors are classified in one of four grade categories, with grade 1 being the least aggressive and grade 4 the most aggressive. Low-grade astrocytoma tumors have the potential to invade surrounding tissue but tend to grow slowly. They may also be classified by subtypes:

  • Fibrillary
  • Protoplasmic
  • Gemistocytic



General symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Weakness on one side of the body
  • Problems with balance
  • Seizures
  • Behavior, memory and personality changes

Low-Grade Astrocytoma Treatment


Treatment can vary according to tumor size, location and how far the tumor has spread, but surgery is recommended for tumors that can be removed without causing neurological distress by damaging surrounding tissue.


Total tumor removal is the surgical goal, but with surgical removal of low-grade astrocytomas, microscopic tumor cells too small for the neurosurgeon to see are often left behind. Radiation therapy, then, may be recommended after surgery to address any remaining tumor matter or for low-grade astrocytoma tumors for which surgery is not an option.

Tumor Recurrence


Low-grade astrocytomas may recur years after initial treatment as as grade 3 or grade 4 astrocytomas, which necessitates a fresh review of treatment options.


Information compiled based on research culled from the American Brain Tumor Association Web site.