Anaplastic ependymoma is a rare, fast-growing tumor in the brain or spinal cord. It’s most common in young children and tends to have a poor outlook. Prompt diagnosis and treatment is essential.
An ependymoma is a type of central nervous system (CNS) tumor that grows from ependymal cells in the brain or spinal cord. The term “anaplastic” describes fast-growing cells that have an unusual shape. Ependymal cells are the cells that line the fluid-filled spaces of the CNS.
Although anaplastic ependymoma can affect anyone of any age, it’s most common in babies and toddlers under the age of 4. Among this age group, tumors are typically located in the brain. Among adults with anaplastic ependymoma, tumors are more commonly found in the spinal cord.
This article reviews symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment for this type of cancer.
Symptoms of anaplastic ependymoma vary according to a person’s age and the size and location of the tumor.
Among infants, some signs can include:
Among children and adults, some signs can include:
- difficulty speaking
- feeling tired
- feeling unwell
- pain in the neck, shoulders, or upper back
- poor balance
- poor coordination
- vision problems
- weakness in the arms or legs
When to contact a doctor
The symptoms of anaplastic ependymoma aren’t specific to this type of tumor. A range of other illnesses can cause them. Many of those conditions aren’t serious.
Still, it’s a good idea to contact a healthcare professional if you have health concerns, particularly if you have an infant or young child with unexplained symptoms.
A family doctor or pediatrician can help determine whether additional testing is required.
Doctors typically use brain scans, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT), to diagnose anaplastic ependymoma tumors. People with anaplastic ependymoma usually need a whole spinal cord MRI as the tumor can involve areas within the brain and spinal cord.
Finally, doctors often use surgery to confirm an anaplastic ependymoma diagnosis. A brain surgeon will extract some or all of the tumor, and a brain cancer specialist will examine the tissue to see if it’s anaplastic ependymoma.
There is a risk of long-term side effects for children due to radiation, so a doctor may recommend limiting the radiation dose.
Some people may require additional treatments to help with symptoms such as fluid buildup, pain, and seizures.
Anaplastic ependymoma is an aggressive cancer that requires swift treatment to minimize complications. It tends to have a lower survival rate than other types of ependymal tumors.
According to a
- Age: Children under age 14 may have a more favorable outlook than adults for this type of tumor, but other
researchsuggests the opposite is true.
- Extent of surgery: The outlook is more favorable when a surgeon can completely remove the tumor.
- Tumor location: Spinal cord tumors are linked to higher chances of survival than brain tumors, particularly those in the upper (supratentorial) region.
- Race: African Americans had a lower survival rate than white people, likely due to racial disparities in healthcare.
- Tumor recurrence: When ependymoma comes back following treatment, the long-term outlook is generally poor.
What is the life expectancy for someone with anaplastic ependymoma?
According to a
The 5-year relative survival rate for adults with any kind of ependymoma ranges from
Prompt diagnosis and treatment and regular follow-ups may help improve your outlook with anaplastic ependymoma.
It’s not clear what causes anaplastic ependymoma.
In general, though, more research is needed to understand what causes this type of CNS tumor.
Although anaplastic ependymoma can affect anyone of any age, it’s most common in children under age 4.
It’s still rare, though. In the United States, there are only
Other factors associated with a slightly increased risk for anaplastic ependymoma tumors include:
Keep reading for answers to common questions about anaplastic ependymoma.
What is the survival rate for pediatric anaplastic ependymoma?
How common is anaplastic ependymoma in adults?
Anaplastic ependymoma is very rare among adults. According to a
The authors of a
What does anaplastic ependymoma with ZFTA mean?
Ependymal tumors are categorized according to their location and molecular characteristics. Anaplastic ependymoma with ZFTA refers to tumors in the supratentorial region of the brain that also exhibit ZFTA gene irregularities.
Is anaplastic ependymoma curable?
Anaplastic ependymoma may be curable, but usually only when surgery can completely remove the tumor. But even with complete removal, it can reoccur.
Anaplastic ependymoma is a type of CNS tumor that most commonly affects young children. It’s rare, with only a few hundred people in the United States receiving a diagnosis each year.
The symptoms of anaplastic ependymoma can resemble several other conditions, so it’s important to see a doctor to learn more.