Ependymoma

Also known as: ependymoma tumor, ependymoma cancer.

What is ependymoma?

Ependymal cells form the lining of the ventricles (fluid containing spaces) in the brain and the central canal of the spinal cord. Tumors that develop from these cells, (fairly rarely, though 6 percent to 12 percent of childhood brain tumors) are called ependymomas. The average age at diagnosis is between 2 and 4 years.

What causes ependymoma?

The underlying cause of is not known.

What are the symptoms of ependymoma?

Symptoms depend on the location of the tumor.

Typically tumors are found in three major sites:

  1. the posterior fossa
  2. the area containing the cerebral hemispheres
  3. the spinal cord.
Each site has different presenting symptoms which can include headache, vomiting, tilting if the head, double vision, loss of balance and difficulties with hearing, speech, swallowing, and clumsy movements. A spinal cord tumor may present with low back pain, sciatica, scoliosis and weakness of the legs.

What are ependymoma care options?

Surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible followed by radiation is common. The role of chemotherapy appears unclear.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: December 16, 2020 12:02 PM

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