Ependymoma

Ependymoma

Ependymomas arise from the ependymal cells that line the ventricles of the brain and the center of the spinal cord. They are soft, grayish, or red tumors which may contain cysts or mineral calcifications.

These tumors are divided into four major types:

  • Subependymomas (grade I):Typically slow-growing tumors.
  • Myxopapillary ependymomas (grade I):Typically slow-growing tumors.
  • Ependymomas (grade II):The most common of the ependymal tumors. This type can be further divided into the following subtypes, including cellular ependymomas, papillary ependymomas, clear cell ependymomas, and tancytic ependymomas.
  • Anaplastic ependymomas (grade III):Typically faster-growing tumors.

Location:

The various types of ependymomas appear in different locations within the brain and spinal column. Subependymomas usually appear near a ventricle. Myxopapillary ependymomas tend to occur in the lower part of the spinal column. Ependymomas are usually located along, within, or next to the ventricular system. Anaplastic ependymomas are most commonly found in the brain in adults and in the lower back part of the skull (posterior fossa) in children. They are rarely found in the spinal cord.

Symptoms:

Symptoms of an ependymoma are related to the location and size of the tumor. In babies, increased head size may be one of the first symptoms. Irritability, sleeplessness, and vomiting may develop as the tumor grows. In older children and adults, nausea, vomiting, and headache are the most common symptoms.

Treatment:

The first step of ependymoma treatment is to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Radiation is usually recommended for older children and adults following surgery, in some cases even if the tumor was completely removed.

The role of chemotherapy in treating newly diagnosed ependymomas is not clear. However, it may be used to treat tumors that have grown back after radiation therapy, or to delay radiation in infants and very young children.

Incidence:

Ependymomas are relatively rare tumors in adults, accounting for 2-3% of primary brain tumors. However, they are the sixth most common brain tumor in children. About 30% of pediatric ependymomas are diagnosed in children younger than 3 years of age.

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Mindee Plugues

Member

Mindee J. Plugues, of Los Angeles, CA, is vice president, marketing for the Applebee’s brand and brings skills including brand strategy, executive leadership, and marketing to the board. Plugues has been an ABTA donor since April 2001, following her father’s passing from GBM. She is also a former member of the ABTA endurance program, Team Breakthrough.

Bob Kruchten

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Bob Kruchten, of Mount Prospect, IL, is a sales manager at Extreme Reach, a leading advertising technology company. He has strong skills in communications and fundraising, and has been advocating for the ABTA for 19 years in tribute to his best friend, Paul Fabbri, who lost his 10-year battle with GBM in 1998. Kruchten accepted the ABTA’s Joel A. Gingras Jr. Award in 2015 on behalf of the Paul Fabbri Memorial Fund.