These tumors originate within star-shaped brain cells called astrocytes. These cells form the brain’s supportive structure. Astrocytomas can develop throughout the brain, and, less commonly, in the spinal cord.
There are four grades of astrocytomas.
Grade I – Pilocytic Astrocytoma: Slow growing and unlikely to be spread.
Grade II – Diffuse Astrocytoma: Can be difficult to remove due to undefined edges. Slow growing but can grow back post surgical removal as a higher grade.
Grade III – Anaplastic Astrocytoma: Fast growing and malignant. Often recurring as a higher grade post surgery.
Grade IV – Glioblastoma: Also known as Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). These tumours are fast growing and malignant. They may be primary tumours or secondary, having started as a lower grade. Professor David Walker has done a lot of research into the treatment of GBMs and has had some excellent results.