Ependymomas are a type of primary malignant brain tumor arising from ependymal cells. These cells line the ventricles, through which cerebrospinal fluid flows. This means that ependymomas can appear throughout the brain or spinal column, with the most common locations in or near a ventricle. At IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics, we diagnose and treat ependymomas and their subtypes with state-of-the-art technology to ensure the best possible outcome for every patient.
About Ependymomas and Their Subtypes
Researchers do not yet know what causes ependymomas, but studies show they are relatively rare in adults, accounting for only 2-3% of primary brain tumors. Among children, however, they are the sixth most common type of tumor. Thirty percent of tumors affecting children under the age of three are ependymomas.
There are several subtypes of ependymomas, including:
- Subependymomas (Grade I): This subtype is rare and accounts for only 8% of all ependymomas. Tumors are slow-growing and typically develop from the glial cells located in the brain and spinal cord.
- Myxopapillary ependymomas (Grade I): Thirteen percent of ependymomas are myxopapillary, meaning they are frequently found in the lower spine and rarely progress past Grade I.
- Ependymomas (Grade II): This is the broadest subtype of ependymoma and is typically found in the brain. It is further divided into cellular, papillary, clear cell, and tancytic ependymomas.
- Anaplastic ependymomas (Grade III): This subtype is the most aggressive. It is characterized by unusually shaped cells, making it easy to identify against other ependymoma types.
How Ependymomas Are Graded
Like all cancerous tumors, ependymomas are graded based on their size, location, and various other factors. The grades include the following:
- Grade I: These slow-growing tumors are unlikely to spread and have clearly-defined boundaries. They can often be cured with surgery.
- Grade II: The tumor has grown and could be invading surrounding tissues.
- Grade III: These tumors have rapidly multiplying cells. They grow quickly and may spread beyond their point of origin.
- Grade IV: These tumors are fast-growing and prone to spreading, or metastasizing. They also cause blood vessel growth and areas of dead tissue.
Signs and Symptoms
Ependymomas share many symptoms in common with other brain and spinal tumors, though the precise signs may vary. A patient’s experience depends on where their tumor is located and what part of their nervous system is affected. Common indicators of a cranial ependymoma include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness and tremors
- Memory loss
- Changes in personality and mood
- An enlarged skull (in infants)
Meanwhile, symptoms of spine ependymomas include:
- Back pain
- Weakness, numbness, or tingling
- Urinary or bowel problems
Our Treatments for Ependymomas
At IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics, our first step in treatment is a tumor resection. The goal of this procedure is to surgically remove as much of the tumor as possible. Our neurosurgeon will carefully expose the tumor, using advanced imagery equipment to ensure a precise operation. We may also treat the tumor with CyberKnife radiosurgery. We then follow surgery with radiation treatment to ensure every part of the ependymoma has been successfully eradicated.
Some tumors may recur, even after surgery and radiation treatment. IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics treats these recurring tumors with chemotherapy. We also use this method in treating infants and children who may be too young for radiation.
Seek Qualified Care Today
In New Jersey and New York, IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics treats ependymomas and other types of tumors with state-of-the-art technology and advanced medicine. Our surgeons are award-winning experts in brain, spine, neurological, and orthopedic procedures, enabling us to provide a full continuum of care. Contact us today to learn more about ependymoma treatment or to schedule an appointment and begin your recovery.