What Is Ependymoma?

Ependymoma is a tumor that begins in the ependyma, a tissue of the central nervous system. These tumors usually are spinal in adults and intracranial in children. An ependymoma tumor can develop from cells that line both the hollow cavities of the brain and the canal containing the spinal cord, but they usually begin in the lower back portion of the brain.

Causes and Symptoms of Ependymoma

Researchers are still looking for the causes of ependymoma. Currently the cause is not known. Areas of the brain that might be affected:

  • Cerebrum—the large part of the brain located at the top of the brain, involved in cognitive skills along with speaking, reading and writing.
  • Cerebellum—is the lower, back part of the brain, directs movement, posture, and balance.
  • Brain stem—joins the brain to the spinal cord, regulates breathing and heart rate along with the nerves and muscles that facilitate eyesight, hearing and motor function.
  • Spinal cord—delivers messages from the brain for muscle movement or to the brain regarding sensations.

General signs and symptoms of brain cancer can include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Exhaustion

Common symptoms of brain tumor:

  • Recurrent headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Balance issues
  • Difficulty walking
  • Seizures
  • Weakness on one side of the body
  • Vision issues
  • Trouble speaking
  • Confusion or irritability

Common symptoms of a spinal tumor:

  • Bowel and bladder issues
  • Leg or arm weakness, tingling or numbness
  • Back pain

How Is Ependymoma Diagnosed?

Whether symptoms slowly develop over time or a fast visit to the emergency is necessary, the procedures to diagnose ependymoma are similar.

  • A physical exam will be performed and your medical history will be reviewed.
  • Your doctor will perform a neurological exam to test the function of your nervous system.
  • An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) with a contrast dye such as gadolinium will be used to create a picture of your nervous system.
  • A lumbar puncture to examine your cerebrospinal fluid.

If tests indicate a possible brain tumor, a craniotomy may be performed. The neurosurgeon takes a small sample of brain tissue so a pathologist can examine the tissue. If cancer cells are discovered, the neurosurgeon will remove the tumor as much as possible while keeping healthy brain tissue safe.

An immunohistochemistry test or other pathology tests may be used to ascertain whether the tumor is a glioma or other kind of tumor.

State-of-the-Art Treatments for Ependymoma at NSPC

The experienced and highly-skilled multidisciplinary treatment teams at NSPC Brain & Spine Surgery (NSPC) (NSPC) offer personalized cancer treatment plans depending on a number of factors including the type of ependymoma, the location and grade of the tumor, and the patient’s age. The board-certified expert neurosurgeons at NSPC offer world-class care in our Long Island and New York area premier medical facilities.

Surgical Resection
If the malignant cells haven’t invaded nearby tissues, surgical removal is the initial treatment step, often this will be in coordination with a biopsy.

Clinical Trials
Participation in a clinical trial allows you potential access to the most recent advances in cancer treatments.

Additional treatments

Powerful radiation beams target cancer cells with precision accuracy to destroy malignant cells. Our Stereotactic Radiosurgery Center has state-of-the-art technology such as Gamma Knife® and Cyberknife®.

Chemotherapy drugs are designed to kill cancer cells. A variety of medications that employ different methods may be used to target the malignant cells.

Pediatric Neurosurgery Center
Our pediatric neurosurgical team specializes in certain diseases and conditions—along with advanced treatments—specific to children.

Contact us to speak with one of the specialists at NSPC Brain Tumor Center in Long Island, NY. The expert doctors at our New York medical centers can help you determine the best cancer treatment plan—for the best possible results.

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