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Signs and Symptoms of Cerebellar Astrocytoma

written by: DaniellaNicole • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 10/13/2010

Cerebellar astrocytoma symptoms can be confused with those of other conditions. Learn about the symptoms of this condition, as well as what it is and what kind of prognosis can be expected.

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    About Cerebellar Astrocytoma

    Cerebellar astrocytomas are one of the most common forms of brain tumors in children. According to the University of Columbia Medical Center, this form of brain tumor makes up between 15 and 25 percent of the pediatric tumor cases.

    According to the Children’s Hospital of Boston, “more than 90 percent of patients present with symptoms of increased pressure within the brain.”

    This form of tumor is primarily found in children, but does rarely occur in adults. In most cases, this form of tumor grows slowly and comes with an excellent prognosis. In some instances, the tumor is malignant, but these cases are quite rare.

    The following represent some of the most common cerebellar astrocytoma symptoms found in patients. They may be mistaken for symptoms of other conditions, but some, if they appear, should be checked by the patient’s treating physician or pediatrician.

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    Mobility

    One of the symptoms of cerebellar astrocytoma is difficulty with walking. This may be accompanied by clumsiness. The cause of these symptoms is due to the pressure the tumor is creating on the brain tissue in the areas surrounding the tumor site.

    Balance and coordination may also be affected in the patient, contributing to the clumsiness the patient experiences. According to the Children’s Hospital of Boston, most children with this condition experience problems with coordination and balance.

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    Nausea

    Nausea and vomiting are both symptoms that may accompany cerebellar astrocytoma. These symptoms are due to the tumor causing an increase in intracranial pressure. They can also be caused by cerebrospinal fluid backing up due to the pressure of the tumor.

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    Headache

    Patients with cerebellar astrocytoma can experience headaches caused by a backup of cerebrospinal fluid due to the pressure of the tumor or by increasing intracranial pressure. Though headaches can occur for a variety of reasons, any child who is experiencing chronic or recurrent headaches should be examined by a physician as soon as possible.

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    Lethargy

    Lethargy is best explained as a feeling of weakness or feeling a lack of energy. Patients may experience lethargy with other symptoms related to cerebellar astrocytomas. This symptom may be especially noticeable in children and should be evaluated by a physician if or when it occurs.

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    Summary

    There are effective diagnostic tools and treatment methods for this condition and the relief of any particularly bothersome cerebellar astrocytoma symptoms. Though some of these symptoms may appear to be related to other conditions, any child experiencing them should be evaluated by a physician. If a brain tumor is suspected, diagnostic testing such as a MRI or CT scan may be ordered.

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    References

    Cerebellar Astrocytomas. Columbia University Medical Center: Department of Neurological Surgery. http://www.columbianeurosurgery.org/conditions/cerebellar-astrocytomas/

    What is Childhood Cerebellar Astrocytoma? Brain Tumor Center. Greenebaum Cancer Center. Last Updated March 26, 2009. http://www.umgcc.org/brain_tumor_center/brain-child-cerebel.htm

    Cerebellar Pilocytic Astrocytoma. Children’s Hospital Boston. http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site684/mainpageS684P0.html