Anaplastic ependymoma

What causes anaplastic ependymoma?

An anaplastic ependymoma is thought to be caused by genetic changes that cause cells of the central nervous system to grow more quickly than they normally do. This causes a tumor to develop. When the cells grow very quickly and become unusually shaped, the tumor is known as an anaplastic ependymoma. The genetic changes that are thought to cause an anaplastic ependymoma are not present in every cell in the body and are not present from birth. Instead, the genetic change happens sometime during a person's lifetime and only in the cell from which an anaplastic ependymoma begins. This acquired genetic change (somatic mutation) causes the cell to multiply very rapidly, passing the genetic change down to each of its daughter cells, which then also multiply rapidly, forming a tumor.

Exactly what causes a cell to develop a genetic change that causes anaplastic ependymoma is not clear. There are not any specific environmental factors that are known to cause an increased risk for anaplastic ependymoma.

Last updated on 05-01-20

How is anaplastic ependymoma diagnosed?

Anaplastic ependymoma may be suspected when a doctor observes signs and symptoms consistent with having a tumor in the brain or spinal cord. These symptoms may include headaches, nausea, vomiting, seizures, or paralysis. A doctor may then order imaging of the brain or spinal cord with an MRI or CT scan. Anaplastic ependymomas may have specific features that can be seen on an MRI or CT scan that can make a doctor think that the tumor is an anaplastic ependymoma. The diagnosis can be confirmed with a biopsy or when the tumor is removed (resected).

Last updated on 05-01-20

Is anaplastic ependymoma inherited?

Anaplastic ependymoma is typically not caused by genetic changes (mutations or pathogenic variants) that are inherited from a parent. Instead, the genetic changes that are thought to cause anaplastic ependymoma develop during the lifetime and are only present in the cell of the body that eventually develops the tumor. This type of genetic change is known as a somatic mutation.

Rarely, a person with anaplastic ependymoma may have a genetic disease that makes it more likely for him or her to develop the tumor. For example, a disease known as neurofibromatosis type 2 can cause an increased risk to develop tumors of the central nervous system, including anaplastic ependymomas. However, most people with an anaplastic ependymoma do not have a genetic disease that caused them to develop the tumor.

Last updated on 05-01-20

What is the long-term outlook for people with anaplastic ependymoma?

An anaplastic ependymoma can grow quickly, which can make it difficult to treat. In some cases, the tumor may be in an area that makes it difficult to remove completely. An anaplastic ependymoma may be associated with a lower chance of survival compared to other types of ependymomas. Some factors that may impact the likelihood that a person with anaplastic ependymoma survives includes:

  • Amount of tumor that can be removed with surgery
  • Whether the tumor has spread to other parts of the body (metastasized)
  • Location of the tumor

Of all individuals diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma, approximately 55% are alive five years after the initial diagnosis. People who do survive may experience side-effects from the treatment.

Last updated on 05-01-20

How might an ependymoma be treated?

Treatment for anaplastic ependymoma typically begins with surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible. After surgery, most people with anaplastic ependymoma receive radiation therapy, even if it looks like the whole tumor was removed. This is because the cells of an anaplastic ependymoma can grow quickly, and radiation therapy can reduce the chances that the tumor comes back (recurs). Other treatments, such as chemotherapy, may be used if the tumor does recur. Studies to determine the exact genetic changes in a tumor may help provide information about the long-term outlook as well as treatment options specific to the characteristics of the tumor.

Other treatments may be used such as steroids to reduce swelling (edema) caused by the tumor, medications to stop seizures, and physical or occupational therapy. In some cases, chemotherapy with stem-cell transplantation may be used to treat anaplastic ependymomas.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Where can I find recommendations for treatment of anaplastic ependymoma?

Treatment recommendations for anaplastic ependymoma have been developed by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). The NCCN is a collaboration of cancer experts from 21 cancer centers across the United States of America that aims to develop and distribute expert management recommendations for many cancer conditions. These recommendations are routinely updated to reflect the most current information available. To access the NCCN Guidelines for treatment of cancer by site (including treatment for ependymoma), sign up for a free membership at

Last updated on 05-01-20

What diet is suggested for children being treated for anaplastic ependymoma?

Though there is no specific recommendation for a special diet, children being treated for anaplastic ependymoma may experience weight loss or lack of appetite. These children may need additional nutrition, so foods high in calories may help them maintain a healthy weight. Additionally, radiation therapy, a treatment for ependymoma, may cause some children to have decreased bone density. The authors on one article in the medical literature suggest that taking additional calcium may help to maintain bone health in children being treated for ependymoma.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Name: American Brain Tumor Association 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Ste 550
Chicago, IL, 60631, United States
Phone: +1-773-577-8750 Toll Free: 1-800-886-2282 Fax : +1-773-577-8738 Email: Url:
Name: Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation 302 Ridgefield Court
Asheville, NC, 28806 , United States
Phone: +1-828-665-6891 Toll Free: 800-253-6530 Fax : +1-828-665-6894 Email: Url:
Name: Collaborative Ependymoma Research Network CERN Foundation P.O. Box 217
Zionsville, IN, 46077, United States
Phone: (844) 237-6674 Email: Url:
Name: The Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation 20312 Watkins Meadow Drive
Germantown, MD, 20876, United States
Phone: +1-301-515-2900 Toll Free: 1-877-217-4166 Email: Url:
Name: Dragon Master Foundation 4120 E. 61st Street
North Kechi, KS, 67067,
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