Cranial Conditions

Ependymomas

Ependymomas

Ependymoma: specific type of brain tumor. Some symptoms: severe headaches, vision, speech and/or cognitive problems.

What is an Ependymoma?

Ependymomas represent a type of glial brain tumor originating from ependymal cells found in the central nervous system. These cells line pathways within the brain responsible for producing and storing cerebrospinal fluid. Ependymomas are categorized based on their specific location of impact: supratentorial ependymomas affect the cerebral hemispheres, while infratentorial ependymomas affect the posterior region of the brain.

These tumors can arise from cells located in the fluid-filled spaces at the base of the brain and the spinal canal, or within the ventricles—fluid-filled cavities in the center of the brain. When occurring in the ventricles, ependymomas may lead to blockages causing hydrocephalus, or fluid accumulation in the brain, which can extend into the spinal cord. Typically confined to a singular area of the brain, ependymomas can exhibit either slow or rapid growth.

What Causes Ependymomas?

Tumors emerge as abnormal growths resulting from irregular cell proliferation devoid of any physiological purpose. Cell division is ordinarily regulated by tumor suppressor genes, which also aid in DNA damage repair. These genes act as a counterforce against oncogenes—genes predisposed to causing cancer. Mutations affecting protein encoding in tumor suppressor genes can lead to uncontrolled cell division and tumor formation.

Ideally, the body’s immune system should identify and eliminate abnormal cells. However, tumors can produce substances that hinder the immune system’s ability to recognize these irregularities, enabling tumor cells to evade internal and external growth checks.

Certain instances of radiation exposure and genetic disorders have been associated with tumor development. While some environmental factors are suspected of contributing to tumor growth, many risk factors for various tumor types remain unknown. Ependymomas affect both children and adults, with incidence peaking at ages 5 and 34.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms vary depending on the tumor’s size and location. Indicative symptoms of ependymomas may include headaches, mobility impairments, fatigue, nausea, cognitive alterations, weakness, or coordination issues.

Diagnosis often involves a review of medical history along with physical and neurological examinations. Biopsy or imaging techniques like MRI or CT scans are utilized to confirm the diagnosis and determine the optimal treatment plan.

Treatment Options

Treatment strategies are contingent upon the tumor’s location, grade, as well as the patient’s age and overall health. Approaches may encompass surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy either individually or in combination.

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.