The key difference between astrocytoma and glioblastoma is that astrocytoma is a lower grade brain cancer that occurs in the brain and spinal cord, while glioblastoma is a higher grade brain cancer that occurs in the brain and spinal cord.
Brain cancer occurs due to malignant growths in brain cells. It can occur originally in the brain (primary brain cancer). Or else, cancer cells from the other parts of the body can spread into the brain, causing secondary brain cancer (metastasize brain cancer). Grades of brain cancer indicate its aggressiveness. There are many different types of brain cancers, such as astrocytoma, glioblastoma, oligodendroglioma, meningioma, medulloblastoma, and ependymoma.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Astrocytoma
3. What is Glioblastoma
4. Similarities – Astrocytoma and Glioblastoma
5. Astrocytoma vs Glioblastoma in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Astrocytoma vs Glioblastoma
What is Astrocytoma?
Astrocytoma is a type of cancer that can arise from the brain and spinal cord. It is normally a lower-grade brain cancer. It arises from astrocytes, which support the nerve cells in the brain. Signs and symptoms of astrocytoma depend on the location of the tumor. Astrocytoma that occurs in the brain can cause seizures, headaches, and nausea. On the other hand, astrocytoma that occurs in the spinal cord can cause weakness and disability in the area affected by cancer. An astrocytoma can be a slow-growing brain tumor (diffuse astrocytoma) or aggressive cancer (anaplastic astrocytoma). The grade of the astrocytoma determines the prognosis and treatment options. Sometimes, astrocytoma can lead to higher grade brain cancer known as glioblastoma.
Diagnosis of astrocytoma is through neurological exams, imaging tests (MRI, CT scan, and PET), and biopsies. There are different types of treatment plans involved in treating astrocytoma. A brain surgeon can remove as much of the astrocytoma as possible through surgery. Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams such as X-rays or protons to kill brain cancers like astrocytoma. Moreover, a chemotherapy drug known as temozolomide is also used to treat astrocytoma.
What is Glioblastoma?
Glioblastoma is a higher grade brain cancer that occurs in the brain and spinal cord. It is the most aggressive form of cancer that arises within the brain. The exact cause of the glioblastoma is unknown. But there are lots of risk factors, including genetic disorders like neurofibromatosis, Li-fraumeni syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, Turcot syndrome, and previous radiation therapy. About 5% of glioblastoma develops from low-grade astrocytoma. Other risk factors include smoking, exposure to pesticides, working in petroleum refining, and rubber manufacturing. Furthermore, glioblastoma has also been associated with infections due to viruses such as SV40, HHV-6, and cytomegalovirus.
Glioblastoma is classified into primary (IDH wild type) and secondary glioblastoma (IDH mutant). The symptoms of glioblastoma may include headaches, personality changes, nausea, stroke features, and unconsciousness. The diagnosis is typically made by CT scans, MRIs, and tissue biopsies. Moreover, glioblastoma treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy (temozolomide), targeted drug therapy (bevasizumab), and tumor treating field (TTF) therapy.
What are the Similarities Between Astrocytoma and Glioblastoma?
- Astrocytoma and glioblastoma are two types of brain cancers.
- Both brain cancers can arise from glial cells known as astrocytes.
- They affect the brain and spinal cord.
- Both brain cancer types may have molecular alterations.
- They are diagnosed through similar diagnosis techniques.
- They are treatable conditions.
What is the Difference Between Astrocytoma and Glioblastoma?
Astrocytoma is a lower grade brain cancer that occurs in the brain and spinal cord, while glioblastoma is a higher grade brain cancer that occurs in the brain and spinal cord. Thus, this is the key difference between astrocytoma and glioblastoma. Furthermore, IDH mutation is always present in astrocytoma, while IDH mutation may or may not be present in glioblastoma.
The below infographic presents the differences between astrocytoma and glioblastoma in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Astrocytoma vs Glioblastoma
A brain tumor is a mass of abnormal cells in the brain. Astrocytoma and glioblastoma are two types of brain cancers. Astrocytoma is a lower-grade brain cancer that occurs in the brain and spinal cord. On the other hand, glioblastoma is a higher grade brain cancer that occurs in the brain and spinal cord. So, this is the key difference between astrocytoma and glioblastoma.
1. “MRI Slices – 2007 and 2014 of astrocytoma patient” By Keating, Steven. (2014) – Keating, Steven. (2014). MRI cranial slices of astrocytoma patient in 2007 and 2014. Zenodo. doi:10.5281/zenodo.16852 (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “RM glioblastoma – trasversale” By Llorenzi – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia