An ependymoma is a slow-growing tumor in your brain or spinal cord. It’s a primary central nervous system tumor, meaning it starts in your brain or spinal cord instead of starting elsewhere and spreading. These tumors usually don’t spread beyond your brain or spinal cord. They develop in both adults and children but are more common in children.
An ependymoma is a mass of irregular cells (tumor) in your brain or spinal cord. It’s a type of primary central nervous system tumor. Ependymomas start in your brain or spinal cord instead of starting elsewhere and spreading to your brain or spinal cord. Ependymomas tend to grow slowly and usually don’t spread to other parts of your body.
Healthcare providers rate ependymomas on a 1 to 3 grading scale, with grade 1 tumors growing the slowest and grade 3 tumors growing the fastest. There are several types of ependymomas, including:
Ependymomas are more common in children than adults. They’re the sixth most common type of brain tumor in children.
Experts estimate that nearly 22 in 100,000 people have primary central nervous system tumors. Of all primary central nervous system tumor diagnoses, ependymomas make up:
Ependymoma symptoms vary depending on the tumor location and size and your age. In babies, an ependymoma may cause:
In older children and adults, ependymomas may cause:
Experts don’t know what causes ependymoma. In general, cancer develops when specific genes change (mutate). Experts don’t know what causes those gene mutations. Researchers have found that people with neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) are more likely to develop an ependymoma.
Diagnosing an ependymoma may require multiple specialists, such as a:
You may have tests to learn more about the tumor’s size, location and grade, such as:
Your healthcare providers may treat an ependymoma with:
Because experts don’t know what causes ependymomas, there’s no way to prevent them. See your healthcare provider right away if you develop any symptoms that could point to an ependymoma. Treating a tumor is often easier when it’s in the early stages of development.
The five-year survival rate for ependymoma is nearly 84%. However, multiple factors affect prognosis, including the tumor grade, location and your health and age.
If you or your child has an ependymoma, you may want to ask your healthcare provider:
Ependymoma survival rates are more favorable in adults than children. The 10-year survival rate is approximately 70% to 89% in adults. In children, it’s about 64%.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
An ependymoma is a tumor that starts in your brain or spinal cord. It can develop in children and adults, although it’s more common in children. There are many types and grades of ependymomas. The tumor location and grade can affect what symptoms you experience. People with ependymoma may experience balance problems, headaches, muscle weakness or numbness. Treatment usually involves surgery to remove the tumor.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/31/2022.
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