Ependymomas are brain tumors that arise from ependymal cells. The most common surgical treatment for ependymoma is craniotomy and surgical removal, and the most common nonsurgical treatment is stereotactic radiosurgery.
Ependymomas, a type of glioma, are uncommon, accounting for 1.9 percent of primary brain tumors among adults and 9 percent among children. Ependymomas can arise in the brain or spine. For information about spinal ependymomas, please click here.
When these tumors occur in the brain, they are typically described as arising in either the supratentorial or infratentorial region of the brain. The terms supratentorial and infratentorial describe each region in relation to the tentorium.
Ependymomas are assigned a grade that reflects the appearance of the tumor cells under a microscope. Grade I designates a typical tumor cell appearance, Grade II a slightly atypical tumor cell appearance and Grade III a significantly atypical tumor cell appearance.
Ependymomas are broken down into the following major types:
Subependymomas and myxopapillary ependymomas, the Grade I tumors, are easier to treat than the Grade II and Grade III tumors, which tend to recur after initial treatment. However, in general, ependymal tumors tend to not invade nearby tissue but instead displace it as they grow, making surgical removal of many of these tumors possible.
About 10 to 15 percent of ependymomas metastasize, via the cerebrospinal fluid, to other areas in the central nervous system. It is rare for an ependymoma to metastasize outside the central nervous system.
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