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What are anaplastic astrocytomas?

About one third of all brain tumours diagnosed in the UK are astrocytomas and grade three astrocytomas are known as anaplastic astrocytomas.

Anaplastic astrocytomas are fast-growing and often referred to as malignant or cancerous. They often recur in a more advanced form following initial treatment. They are most common in adults aged 30- 70 and are more common in males.

Anaplastic astrocytoma symptoms

Some of the common symptoms associated with astrocytomas are:

  • tiredness
  • headaches
  • blurred vision
  • double vision
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • seizures
  • balance problems

Treating anaplastic astrocytomas

As these tumours are faster growing and more aggressive, the usual course of treatment is surgery followed by radiotherapy and sometimes chemotherapy.


Where possible, initial treatment is normally surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible – depending on the location. Complete removal is often not possible, which means tumour cells remain in the brain. Therefore, surgery is often followed up with radiotherapy.


If you are relatively fit, a long course of radiotherapy over several weeks may by suggested. If not, a shorter course may be more suitable. Radiotherapy is very rarely used in children under three years old.

Radiotherapy uses controlled doses of invisible, high energy beams of charged particles to destroy tumour cells whilst causing as little damage as possible to surrounding cells.

Radiotherapy is very rarely used in children under 3 years.


For children, particularly young children, chemotherapy, rather than surgery, is usually the first treatment given.

Chemotherapy treatment plans vary enormously and your child’s chemotherapy will be carefully planned and tailored to them individually. As a result, it could vary from daily chemotherapy for a while, as a day case in hospital, to being admitted to the ward for several days every two to three weeks.

About 27% of people diagnosed with a high grade astrocytoma, including anaplastic astrocytomas, live for five years or more.

Get your free brain tumour information pack

Our FREE Brain Tumour Information Pack has been designed to help you through this difficult time, to guide you through the healthcare system, answer your questions, and reassure you that you’re not alone so that you feel confident when discussing treatment and care options with your medical team.

Unfortunately, we’re currently unable to send Information Packs by post. All the information contained in the pack can be found in the email you’ll receive after completing this form.

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