About the disease
Ependymoma is a type of brain tumor that develops in the ependyma, which is the thin membrane lining the ventricles of the brain and spinal cord. Once the tumor affects the central nervous system, it is difficult for the individual to learn new skills, communicate or make new memories. Sometimes, ependymoma can cause changes to the individual’s emotional state and affects motor skills, such as walking or writing. Depending on each case, it can develop slowly or quickly.
In most cases, adults develop ependymoma in the brain itself, while it is usually the brain stem that is affected in children, causing difficulties in their ability to see, hear and breathe.
According to the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA), this type of tumor is relatively rare, accounting for 2% of all brain tumors. Nevertheless, it is the sixth most common brain tumor in children. Ependymoma accounts for almost 30% of all brain tumors in children. The tumor growth can be caused by a genetic predisposition, previous head trauma or an infection.
- Long-lasting headaches
- Pain in the neck
- Loss of balance
- Blurred vision
- Weight loss
- Changes in behavior
- CT and MRI scans are commonly used to diagnose ependymoma. These can help to detect cysts or strange masses in the brain and spinal cord.
- A lumbar puncture (also known as a spinal tap) is a procedure that drains the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain, so that it can be tested for signs of a tumor.
- A biopsy of the affected tissue can confirm the diagnosis and determine the tumor type and stage.
- Chemotherapy kills the tumor with high-dose drugs. Depending on the stage of the tumor, chemotherapy sessions are conducted over a period of a few weeks to a few months.
- Radiation therapy uses radiation to shrink the tumor as much as possible.
- Surgical resection