Pilocytic Astrocytoma | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of pilocytic astrocytoma?

As a pilocytic astrocytoma grows, it presses on surrounding healthy parts of the brain, affecting their function. As such, the symptoms of a pediatric pilocytic astrocytoma depend on the tumor's size and where in the brain it is located. Some of the most common symptoms of a pediatric pilocytic astrocytoma include:

  • headache
  • severe or frequent vomiting
  • vision problems
  • difficulty walking or balancing
  • seizures
  • weight gain or loss
  • premature puberty
  • clumsiness
  • confusion
  • sleepiness
  • changes in behavior

Because these tumors grow so slowly, children may experience symptoms for months before seeing a doctor. However, in some children, symptoms come on very quickly because the tumor blocks the flow of cerebrospinal fluid — a liquid that cushions the brain and spinal cord — within the brain.

What causes pediatric pilocytic astrocytoma?

It’s important to understand that these and other brain tumors most often occur with no known cause. There’s nothing that could have been done or avoided that would have prevented the tumor from developing.