Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytomas

The lobes of the brain
A juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma can develop anywhere there are astrocytes, which exist throughout the brain and spine.

A juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma (JPA) is a slow-growing brain tumor that develops — usually in children and adolescents — from cells called astrocytes. Astrocytes are glial cells, meaning that they are a type of cell that supports nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, so a juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma is a kind of glioma. Unlike other gliomas, though, juvenile pilocytic astrocytomas are considered low grade, meaning that they are very benign tumors and the prognosis for recovery is excellent.

A juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma is a cystic (fluid-filled) tumor, not a solid mass. On the World Health Organization’s grading scale, a JPA is a Grade I tumor, highly unlikely to grow or to spread to other areas. 

 Read more about types of brain tumors in children.

A juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma can develop anywhere there are astrocytes, which exist throughout the brain and spine. JPAs commonly develop at the back of the brain in the cerebellum, near the optic nerve, in the brainstem, or in the cerebrum. Depending on its location, a JPA can cause different symptoms as it causes pressure on different areas of the brain (see Symptoms of a Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma).

What Causes Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma?
It’s not known what causes the abnormal cell division that leads to a brain tumor. But there is no way to prevent them, and there’s nothing you can do to reduce a child’s risk of developing one.

Call our Pediatric Brain and Spine Center at 212-746-2363 to make an appointment for an evaluation, or use our online form to request an appointment.

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Philip Norton was all too familiar with what it was like to have a child with a serious health issue. For more than a decade, the single father from South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, had devoted himself to keeping his son Braiden healthy and happy,...
As a pediatric neurosurgeon, I thought nothing could be more frustrating than a brain tumor that can’t be fixed surgically. As a neuroscience researcher, I thought nothing could make me more impatient than the deliberately slow pace we need to take...

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  • Vice Chair, Neurological Surgery
  • Director, Pediatric Neurological Surgery
Phone: 212-746-2363
  • Vice Chair for Academic Affairs
  • Professor of Neurological Surgery, Pediatric Neurosurgery
  • Associate Residency Director
Phone: 212-746-2363
  • Victor and Tara Menezes Clinical Scholar in Neuroscience
  • Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery in Pediatrics
Phone: 212-746-2363

Reviewed by: Jeffrey Greenfield, M.D., Ph.D.
Last reviewed/last updated: June 2024
Illustration by Thom Graves, CMI

Weill Cornell Medicine Neurological Surgery 525 East 68 Street, Box 99 New York, NY 10065 Phone: 866-426-7787