The CERN Foundation is dedicated to helping you understand ependymoma. See below for a list of ependymoma facts about the disease.
Ependymoma tumor description
- An ependymoma is a rare type of primary brain or spinal cord tumor
- An ependymoma is a rare type of glial tumor; glial cells are the cells that support brain
- Primary brain and spinal cord tumors are those that start in the central nervous system (CNS)
- These ependymoma tumors are classified and graded according to their appearance when viewed through the microscope
- Ependymomas can be found in children and adults
Ependymoma tumor incidence
Ependymoma tumors account for two percent (in adults) and five percent (in children) of CNS tumors.
Incidence in children:
- The third most common pediatric brain tumor
- The most common type of primary spinal cord tumor
- Approximately 250 children are diagnosed per year
- Most commonly occur in the brain
Incidence in adults:
- Two percent of adult gliomas
- Approximately 1,100 adults are diagnosed per year
- Most commonly occur in the spinal cord
Staging and grading
- Ependymoma may spread throughout the CNS
- Spread outside of the CNS is rare
- All can recur (regrow)
- Graded on a scale of I to III (World Health Organization [WHO] Grading system)
- Grade I
- Myxopapillary ependymoma and subependymoma
- Myxopapillary ependymomas generally occur in the spinal cord in adults
- Both tumors tend to grow slowly, especially the subependymoma
- Grade II and III
- Classic ependymomas and ependymoma subtypes or variants (Grade II) and anaplastic ependymoma (Grade III)
- These occur mainly in the brain
- These tumors grow more quickly than Grade I tumors
Spinal cord and brain tumor symptoms
Symptoms depend on the tumor location. Any symptoms you have should be discussed with your doctor
Common brain tumor symptoms include:
- Headache or pressure in the head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Weakness or numbness and tingling
Common spinal cord symptoms include:
- Back pain
- Weakness in the arms or legs
- Numbness or tingling in the arms, legs or trunk
- Problems going to the bathroom or controlling bowel or bladder function
Causes and treatment
- The cause is not known. It rarely occurs in multiple family members, although does occur in people with Neurofibromatosis type 2.
- Most people with ependymomas, of any grade, will undergo surgery to remove a tumor.
- Depending on the tumor grade, location and how much of the tumor has been removed, radiation therapy is often given.
- The role of chemotherapy has not been established, but researchers are working to find new effective treatments.