Treating anaplastic astrocytoma
As these grade 3 astrocytomas are faster growing and more aggressive, the usual course of treatment is surgery followed by radiotherapy and sometimes chemotherapy.
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.
Where chemotherapy is suggested, chemotherapy drugs are sometimes put inside a polymer wafer and inserted into the brain during surgery. The polymer gradually dissolves over 2-3 weeks, releasing the chemotherapy drug (usually carmustine) directly into the brain. Wafers are used to target cells which couldn't be removed by surgery. You may also hear these implants referred to as Gliadel® wafers.
Your oncologist may also recommend a drug called temozolomide (Temadol®). Both carmustine and temozolomide stop the tumour cells copying their DNA (genes), which needs to happen before the cells can divide. This in turn stops the tumour cells dividing.
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