Grading a brain tumour

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Most brain tumours develop from the supporting cells of the brain tissue, known as glial cells. The grading of tumours refers to how the cells look under a microscope and how quickly the cells replicate. In my situation, I have a grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma, a primary brain tumour, which develops from a star-shaped cell called a astrocyte. There are three types of astrocytic tumours that are graded 1-4:

  • Astrocytoma – a low-grade glioma, grade 1 – 2
  • Anaplastic astrocytoma – grade 3 gliomas
  • Glioblastoma – grade 4 gliomas, also referred to as Glioblastoma multiform (GBM)

Primary brain tumours start in the brain and have not spread there from somewhere else in the body, as a secondary brain tumour would. Benign brain tumours remain in the part of the brain where they form, although malignant brain tumours are more likely to cause problems by spreading into other brain tissue around the tumour. If the tumour is malignant and spreads, they rarely then spread outside of the brain to other parts of the body. Grade 3 and 4 gliomas are considered malignant tumours.

For further information on brain tumours, or other forms of cancer/tumours, take a look at the below website for Macmillan cancer support.

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