Protoplasmic astrocytoma. A clinicopathologic study of 16 tumors

Am J Clin Pathol. 1995 Jun;103(6):705-9. doi: 10.1093/ajcp/103.6.705.


Protoplasmic astrocytomas, composed of process-poor astrocytic cells and a microcystic background, are rare variants of low grade astrocytoma. Three hundred eight low grade astrocytomas over a 23-year period were reviewed. Sixteen (5.2%) were classified as pure protoplasmic astrocytoma. Patients (12 males, 4 females) ranged in age from 2.5 to 41 years (mean, 20.7 years). All patients presented with seizures and three had headaches. Duration of symptoms ranged from 7 months to 28 years (mean, 6.6 years). Nine tumors (56%) were left-sided and seven right-sided (44%). Seven (44%) occurred in the temporal lobe, six (37%) in the frontal lobe, two (13%) in the parietal lobe, and one (6%) in the thalamus. Surgery consisted of partial lobectomy with total tumor resection in nine and biopsy alone in seven. Five patients received adjuvant therapy with no apparent effect on survival. At frozen section, protoplasmic astrocytoma was most confused with fibrillary low grade astrocytoma (n = 6). Follow-up revealed 10 patients with no evidence of disease 2 to 108 months postoperatively (mean, 41 months), 5 patients were alive with disease 10 to 84 months postoperatively (mean, 56 months) and 1 patient died with disease at 36 months. Of patients with total tumor resection, eight had no evidence of disease and one died with disease.

In conclusion: (1) protoplasmic astrocytomas in this study were more frequently observed in males at a younger mean age than fibrillary low grade astrocytomas as reported in literature; (2) temporal and frontal lobes were the most likely site of origin; and (3) complete excision may be beneficial, whereas adjuvant therapy appeared to have no effect on outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Astrocytoma / pathology*
  • Astrocytoma / surgery
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parietal Lobe / pathology
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology
  • Thalamus / pathology