gemistocytic astrocytoma

Gemistocytic astrocytoma is a histologic subtype of low grade astrocytoma, with a poorer prognosis than other matched WHO grade tumors, and with no specific imaging features.

For a general discussion of clinical presentation, epidemiology, treatment please refer to the article on low grade astrocytomas.


Gemistocytic astrocytomas are characterized by a significant gemistocytes population, which are large cells with their cytoplasm filled with eosinophilic material displacing the nucleus eccentrically .

It is important to note that other gliomas (e.g. fibrillary astrocytoma and oligodendrogliomas) can have occasional gemistocytes, without being designated a gemistocytic astrocytoma. Some authors use a cut off of 20% of the tumor cells being gemistocytes before designating it as a gemistocytic astrocytoma .

Radiographic features

Although there are no specific features which allow pre-biopsy diagnosis, gemistocytic astrocytomas are almost always supratentorial and usually located in the frontal lobes .

Treatment and prognosis

In general gemistocytic astrocytomas, although often still considered WHO II tumors, have a more aggressive behavior compared to fibrillary astrocytomas . Some authors suggest that they should be considered WHO III tumors .

The median with treatment is only 2.5 years, with a 5-year survival rate of 30% which is significantly worse than other low grade gliomas . Older age at presentation appears to be a poor prognostic sign .

Given the generally worse prognosis, most clinicians would favor a more aggressive approach to treatment.

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