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Childhood Ependymoma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stage Information

Although there is no formal staging system, ependymomas can be divided into supratentorial, infratentorial, and spinal tumors. In children, approximately 30% of childhood ependymomas arise in supratentorial regions of the brain and 70% in the posterior fossa.[1,2,3] They usually originate in the ependymal linings of ventricles or central canal or ventriculus terminalis of the spinal cord, and have access to the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). Therefore, these tumors may spread throughout the neuraxis, although dissemination is noted in less than 10% of patients with Grade II and Grade III ependymomas. Myxopapillary ependymomas are more likely to disseminate to the nervous system early in the course of illness. Every patient with ependymoma should be evaluated with diagnostic imaging of the spinal cord and whole brain. This is ideally done prior to surgery to avoid confusion with postoperative blood. The most sensitive method available for evaluating spinal cord subarachnoid metastasis is spinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) performed with gadolinium. If MRI is used, the entire spine is generally imaged in at least two planes with contiguous MRI slices performed after gadolinium enhancement. In addition, CSF cytological evaluation should be conducted. While a number of factors have sometimes been associated with an unfavorable outcome (younger age at diagnosis, lower doses of radiation, anaplastic histology, subtotal resection, higher proliferation marker, MIB-1 labeling index), age, histology, and extent of resection have consistently been the most important factors.[1,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11]; [12][Level of evidence: 3iiiDi]; [13][Level of evidence: 3iiiDii] Primary spinal cord ependymomas have a more favorable outcome than cranial variants.[14]

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  1. Goldwein JW, Leahy JM, Packer RJ, et al.: Intracranial ependymomas in children. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 19 (6): 1497-502, 1990.
  2. Kovnar E, Kun L, Burger J, et al.: Patterns of dissemination and recurrence in childhood ependymoma: preliminary results of Pediatric Oncology Group protocol #8532. Ann Neurol 30(3): 457, 1991.
  3. Vanuytsel LJ, Bessell EM, Ashley SE, et al.: Intracranial ependymoma: long-term results of a policy of surgery and radiotherapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 23 (2): 313-9, 1992.
  4. 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.
  5. Merchant TE, Jenkins JJ, Burger PC, et al.: Influence of tumor grade on time to progression after irradiation for localized ependymoma in children. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 53 (1): 52-7, 2002.
  6. Wolfsberger S, Fischer I, Höftberger R, et al.: Ki-67 immunolabeling index is an accurate predictor of outcome in patients with intracranial ependymoma. Am J Surg Pathol 28 (7): 914-20, 2004.
  7. Kurt E, Zheng PP, Hop WC, et al.: Identification of relevant prognostic histopathologic features in 69 intracranial ependymomas, excluding myxopapillary ependymomas and subependymomas. Cancer 106 (2): 388-95, 2006.
  8. Horn B, Heideman R, Geyer R, et al.: A multi-institutional retrospective study of intracranial ependymoma in children: identification of risk factors. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol 21 (3): 203-11, 1999 May-Jun.
  9. Pollack IF, Gerszten PC, Martinez AJ, et al.: Intracranial ependymomas of childhood: long-term outcome and prognostic factors. Neurosurgery 37 (4): 655-66; discussion 666-7, 1995.
  10. Bouffet E, Perilongo G, Canete A, et al.: Intracranial ependymomas in children: a critical review of prognostic factors and a plea for cooperation. Med Pediatr Oncol 30 (6): 319-29; discussion 329-31, 1998.
  11. Korshunov A, Golanov A, Sycheva R, et al.: The histologic grade is a main prognostic factor for patients with intracranial ependymomas treated in the microneurosurgical era: an analysis of 258 patients. Cancer 100 (6): 1230-7, 2004.
  12. Tihan T, Zhou T, Holmes E, et al.: The prognostic value of histological grading of posterior fossa ependymomas in children: a Children's Oncology Group study and a review of prognostic factors. Mod Pathol 21 (2): 165-77, 2008.
  13. Tamburrini G, D'Ercole M, Pettorini BL, et al.: Survival following treatment for intracranial ependymoma: a review. Childs Nerv Syst 25 (10): 1303-12, 2009.
  14. McGuire CS, Sainani KL, Fisher PG: Both location and age predict survival in ependymoma: a SEER study. Pediatr Blood Cancer 52 (1): 65-9, 2009.
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Last Updated: February 25, 2014
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