Ependymoma tumors may form on the brain or spinal cord in the ependymal cells – the cells that line the passageways of the cerebrospinal fluid.
Ependymoma tumors can occur at any age in the brain or spinal cord, and according to the Collaborative Ependymoma Research Network, account for approximately 1.9% of all tumors in adults. While they’re more common in children, when they develop in adults they tend to occur in the spinal cord. Ependymoma tumors may travel through the cerebrospinal fluid to other areas in the brain or spine, although this is rare.
The first line of treatment is typically brain or spine surgery to remove the ependymoma tumor. The goal of the surgery is to remove the entire ependymoma tumor; however, when this is not possible, other treatment methods such as radiation therapy, radiosurgery, chemotherapy, or clinical trials may be recommended to fully remove the tumor.
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The symptoms of ependymoma tumors may vary greatly depending on the location of the tumor. Common symptoms of brain or spine ependymoma tumors include:
- Chronic headaches
- Nausea or vomiting
- Back pain
- Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs
- Urinary or bowel problems
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