You can expect the best care

Astrocytoma is the most common type of pediatric brain tumor. They develop from glial cells called astrocytes and are most often in the cerebrum (the large, outer part of the brain) or the cerebellum (the lower, back part of the brain).

Symptoms and diagnosis

Identifying astrocytoma in children

A brain tumor often causes symptoms by pressing on the surrounding parts of the brain.

Symptoms can vary depending on a child’s age, but could include:

  • Headaches, often worse in the morning

  • Nausea and vomiting 

  • Clumsiness

  • Problems with handwriting

  • Tilting the head to one side

  • Difficulty walking

  • Balance problems

  • Vision problems

  • Changes in personality or behavior

Symptoms might develop gradually and can be like those of other common childhood conditions, so brain tumors can be difficult to diagnose. If you ever have concerns about symptoms your child is having, talk with your child's doctor right away.


Your child’s doctor will do a full physical exam and take a detailed medical history. Additional tests could include:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan

  • Bone scan

  • Lumbar puncture

  • Angiogram

  • X-rays


Plans tailored to your child

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, general health and how severe the condition is.

Treatments might include:

  • Surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible 

  • Radiation therapy using high-energy X-rays to shrink tumors and prevent them from growing 

  • Chemotherapy

Understanding pediatric cancer

Our experts offer the most advanced treatment options, and our pediatric cancer and blood disorder experts are national research leaders. We test new therapies and continue to work on therapies for pediatric cancer and blood disorders. For many children with rare or hard-to-treat conditions, clinical trials provide new options.

Search our clinical trials

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UW Health Kids
Our pediatric experts have served the special needs of children for more than 100 years. We focus on each child’s unique needs and offer social and emotional support to help you and your child face even the most complex condition. Our long history includes the creation of medical advances that save lives around the world. Together, we get your child back to health and enjoying being a kid.

Meet our team

Experts you can trust

Your child’s care is our top priority and we understand the unique needs they have.

Your child’s team will include:

  • Oncologists (cancer doctors)

  • Hematologists (blood disease doctors)

  • Nurse practitioners

  • Child life specialists

  • Pain management specialists

  • Physical, occupational and speech therapists

  • Radiologists and radiation technologists

  • Social workers

  • Surgeons

Care team
Pediatric neurosurgery


Care for your child

UW Health Kids | Carbone Cancer Center experts are dedicated to diagnosing and treating all infants, children and adolescents with cancer — including astrocytoma, which is a brain tumor.

Our pediatric oncologists are part of the UW Health | Carbone Cancer Center, which is a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. This designation means that the doctors taking care of your child are experts in cancer treatment, research and education.

At American Family Children’s Hospital, you will find a friendly, child-centered environment. Our hospital is designed with relaxing spaces and areas where children are encouraged to play.

Patient and support services

You’re never alone

When your child needs hospitalization, they will be admitted to American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, Wis.

Child life specialists help your child and family cope with any fears and anxieties. The American Family Children's Hospital patient and family visitor guide features information about:

  • Hero beads

  • Hospital school

  • Positive Image Center

  • Restoring Hope Transplant House (for blood and bone marrow transplant)

  • Spiritual care services

  • Tyler's Place (sibling child care)

Additional resources

Pediatric cancer services

With our expertise comes compassion. Our team considers you and your child part of our family. We will be by your side every step of the way. From diagnosis through treatment and into adulthood, we will care for your child as if they are our own.

Learn more