Brain Tumor (Astrocytoma) in Dogs

May 18, 2010
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Astrocytoma in Dogs

Astrocytomas are brain tumors that affect the organ's glial cells, which surround nerve cells (neurons), giving them support and electrically insulating them. It is the most common primary neoplasm occurring the brain of dogs. However, an astrocytoma can also be rarely found in the spinal cord, and there was one reported case of an astrocytoma located in the retina.

Symptoms and Types

The astrocytoma's biologic behavior depends on the tumor's location and degree of lack of cell differentiation (graded I–IV, from best to worst prognosis). The following are some common symptoms associated with this type of brain tumor:

  • Seizures
  • Behavioral changes
  • Disorientation
  • Loss of conscious proprioception (i.e., clumsy misplacement of feet, tripping, etc.)
  • Cranial nerve abnormalities
  • Paralysis

Causes

The underlying cause for the development of astrocytomas is currently unknown.

Diagnosis

You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to the veterinarian. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination as well as a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, complete blood count, and electrolyte panel to rule out other diseases.

An analysis of cerebrospinal fluid may indicate increased protein levels without an increase in cell count, which is indicative of astrocytoma development. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are also highly instrumental in diagnosing astrocytomas, as is radionuclide imaging, which may show an area of increased activity at the tumor site.

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