Pilocytic Astrocytoma

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Health Information

Astrocytoma (Brain Tumors)


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 pilocytic astrocytoma tumors?


Pilocytic astrocytomas are also called grade 1 astrocytoma. They are benign, non-infiltrating tumors, meaning they do not spread into surrounding tissue. They are often found in the optic nerve, cerebrum or cerebellum and grow slowly but, if left untreated, can become very large.


Astrocytomas are classified in one of four grade categories, with grade 1 being the least aggressive and grade 4 the most aggressive. Pilocytic astrocytoma tumors often form cysts or are encased in cysts and are far more common in children than adults. They are, in fact, the most common tumor type found in children under the age of 20.




General symptoms include:

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

Pilocytic Astrocytoma Treatment


Because pilocytic astrocytoma tumors do not spread to surrouding cells, surgery can often remove all or most of the tumor. Radiation therapy is an option if surgery does not remove the entire tumor.

Following initial treatment physicians will use follow-up magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) screens staggered at consistent intervals to watch for recurrence.


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