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Astrocytomas are tumors that form in the brain and spinal cord. They are primary tumors, meaning they develop in the brain or spinal cord rather than spreading from elsewhere in the body.
Astrocytomas belong to a larger group of tumors called gliomas. Gliomas begin in brain and spinal cord cells called glial cells, which surround nerve cells and help them function. Astrocytomas form in particular, star-shaped glial cells called astrocytes.
Our doctors use 3 main categories of treatment for astrocytomas: surgery, radiation therapy, and drug therapy. We often recommend a combination of these treatments, based on the specific details discovered during diagnosis. You and your doctor work together to identify the best option for you, based on factors such as:
Size of the tumor
Aggressiveness of the cancer
When making recommendations, your Stanford doctors can choose from a range of specialized diagnostic and treatment approaches, including for tissue sampling (biopsy) and surgery.
Improvements in imaging technology, for example, have provided surgeons with valuable tools to locate, identify, and learn more about brain tumors. These image-guided approaches allow them to “map” the brain and separate tumors from healthy tissue. They can also perform safer, less-invasive procedures. Your team will work with you to identify the best option for you.