Ependymomas (World Health Organization [WHO] grade II) and WHO grade I ependymal tumors, i.e., subependymoma and myxopapillary ependymomas, are often curable. (Refer to the Ependymal Tumors section in the Classification section of this summary for more information.)
Quality-of-life issues are important in this group of patients, and are difficult to assess due to various treatment modalities. Whereas intelligence quotient is usually maintained, behavioral issues and memory deficits attributed to the frontal lobe and hypothalamus are common. Other common problems include visual loss, obesity (which can be life threatening), and the almost universal need for life-long endocrine replacement with multiple pituitary hormones.[2,3,4][Level of evidence: 3iiiC] Vasculopathies...
Surgery followed by radiation therapy to known or suspected residual tumor.[1,2]
Treatment options under clinical evaluation:
At recurrence following surgery, patients should be considered for reoperation and radiation therapy if not previously given. Patients who have received radiation therapy should be considered candidates for nitrosourea-based chemotherapies and for clinical trials that evaluate new drugs and biological response modifiers.
Anaplastic ependymomas (WHO grade III) have variable prognoses that depend on the location and extent of disease. Frequently, but not invariably, anaplastic ependymomas have worse prognoses than lower grade ependymal tumors. (Refer to the Anaplastic Ependymoma section in the Classification section of this summary for more information.)
Adjuvant chemotherapy before, during, and after radiation are treatment options being evaluated. At recurrence, patients should be considered candidates for nitrosourea-based chemotherapies and for clinical trials that evaluate new drugs and biological response modifiers.
Current Clinical Trials
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with adult ependymal tumors. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.
Wallner KE, Wara WM, Sheline GE, et al.: Intracranial ependymomas: results of treatment with partial or whole brain irradiation without spinal irradiation. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 12 (11): 1937-41, 1986.
Shaw EG, Evans RG, Scheithauer BW, et al.: Postoperative radiotherapy of intracranial ependymoma in pediatric and adult patients. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 13 (10): 1457-62, 1987.
Oya N, Shibamoto Y, Nagata Y, et al.: Postoperative radiotherapy for intracranial ependymoma: analysis of prognostic factors and patterns of failure. J Neurooncol 56 (1): 87-94, 2002.