Pediatric astrocytoma

The latest pediatric cancer treatments

If your child has an astrocytoma, UW Health is home to a leading pediatric treatment and research team. We are part of the UW Carbone Cancer Center, Wisconsin's only comprehensive cancer center, as designated by the National Cancer Institute.
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Overview

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 (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 may 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 can 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.

Diagnosis

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

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan

  • Bone scan

  • Lumbar puncture

  • Angiogram

  • X-rays

Treatment

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

At UW Health, we offer the most advanced treatment options. 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

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

We care for your child as if they are our own

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

Locations

Care for your child

UW Health’s pediatric oncologists 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 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. 

American Family Children’s Hospital

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.

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  • UW Carbone Cancer Center
    • 600 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • Closed now
    • The University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center is a pioneer in cancer research and quality patient care. It is the only comprehensive cancer center in Wisconsin, as designated by the National Cancer Institute.

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  • American Family Children's Hospital - Pediatric Hematology and Oncology
    • 1675 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-6420
    • Closed now
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  • American Family Children's Hospital - Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant
    • 1675 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-6420
    • Closed now
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  • American Family Children's Hospital - Pediatric Neurosurgery
    • 1675 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-6420
    • Closed now
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Patient and support services

You’re never alone

There are services available at both American Family Children’s Hospital and in the community to help patients and their families through every step of their journey.

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

  • Health psychology

  • Hero beads

  • Hospital school

  • Positive Image Center

  • Spiritual care services

  • Tyler's Place (sibling child care)