What Is an Anaplastic Ependymoma?

Childhood Ependymoma Treatment

Anaplastic ependymoma is an uncommon tumour of the brain or spinal cord that grows quickly. It typically has a negative viewpoint and is particularly prevalent in young children. Timely diagnosis and intervention are critical.

One kind of tumour in the central nervous system (CNS) that develops from ependymal cells in the brain or spinal cord is called ependymoma. Anaplastic refers to rapidly proliferating cells with a peculiar morphology. The cells that border the CNS's fluid-filled cavities are called ependymal cells.

Anaplastic ependymoma is most frequent in infants and toddlers under four years old, while it can afflict people of any age. Tumours in this age group usually occur in the brain. The spinal cord is where tumours are more frequently discovered in adult patients with anaplastic ependymoma.

This page discusses this form of cancer's symptoms, diagnosis, and course of therapy.

Ependymoma grades

Ependymomas are categorised by doctors into grades 1, 2, or 3.

Ependymomas of grades 1 and 2 are low-grade tumours, which means that they grow slowly.

Grade 3 anaplastic ependymomas grow quickly and typically have a worse prognosis.

What are the symptoms of anaplastic ependymoma?

Anaplastic ependymoma symptoms differ depending on the age of the patient as well as the location and size of the tumour.

Some indications in babies may be:
  • difficulty sleeping
  • failure to thrive
  • bulging fontanel
  • unusually large head
  • vomiting
  • fussiness
Some indications in both adults and children may be:
  • difficulty speaking
  • feeling tired
  • seizures
  • vision problems
  • pain in the neck, shoulders, or upper back
  • poor balance
  • poor coordination
  • weakness in the arms or legs
  • feeling unwell
  • headaches
  • incontinence
  • irritability

When to contact a doctor

Anaplastic ependymoma symptoms are not exclusive to this kind of tumour. They can be brought on by a variety of other ailments. Many of such ailments are not life-threatening.

Nonetheless, it's a good idea to speak with a medical expert if you have any concerns about your health, especially if you have a young child or infant exhibiting strange symptoms.

If more testing is necessary, a paediatrician or family physician can assist in making that determination.

How do doctors diagnose anaplastic ependymoma?

Anaplastic ependymoma tumours are usually diagnosed by brain scans, such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Because the tumour can affect both the brain and the spinal cord, people with anaplastic ependymoma typically require a full spinal cord MRI.

Your doctor may recommend a lumbar puncture, commonly referred to as a spinal tap, after a brain scan to check for cancer cells in the cerebrospinal fluid of you or your kid.

Lastly, surgery is frequently used by physicians to validate a diagnosis of anaplastic ependymoma. A brain cancer specialist will evaluate the tissue to determine whether the tumour is anaplastic ependymoma, and a brain surgeon will remove part or all of it.

What is the treatment for anaplastic ependymoma?

Anaplastic ependymoma is most commonly treated by a craniotomy, a kind of brain surgery.

A physician might suggest chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or both before or after surgery. Treatments could aid in tumour reduction before surgery or eliminate tumour cells that aren't removed during the procedure.

A doctor could advise decreasing the radiation dose for youngsters because there is a chance that they will have long-term side effects from it.

Some patients may need further therapies to address symptoms like discomfort, convulsions, and fluid retention.

What is the outlook for people with anaplastic ependymoma?

Anaplastic ependymoma is an aggressive malignancy that needs to be treated quickly to reduce side effects. Its survival rate is generally poorer than that of other kinds of ependymal tumours.

A 2020 study that examined survival data from the United States between 2000 and 2016 found that the following factors influence the prognosis of individuals with anaplastic ependymoma:
  • Age: For this kind of tumour, children under the age of 14 may have a better prognosis than adults, while some research indicates the opposite.
  • Extent of surgery: When the tumour is entirely removed by a surgeon, the prognosis improves.
  • Tumor location: Compared to brain tumours, spinal cord tumours have a better prognosis, especially for those located in the upper (supratentorial) region.
  • Race: The lower survival rate among African Americans compared to Whites might probably be attributed to differences in access to healthcare.
  • Tumor recurrence: The prognosis for ependymoma patients who recur after treatment is usually not good.

What is the life expectancy for someone with anaplastic ependymoma?

A 2017 study found that approximately one-third of children diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma go on to live for ten years or more.

Anaplastic ependymomas often have a worse prognosis, however, the 5-year relative survival rate for people with any sort of ependymoma varies from 87–92%, according to the American Cancer Society.

If you have anaplastic ependymoma, prompt diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up appointments may help improve your prognosis.

What causes anaplastic ependymoma?

The cause of anaplastic ependymoma is unknown.

Studies relating particular genetic abnormalities to ependymoma tumours are cited by the authors of a review published in 2023. These alterations lead to rapid cell division and dissemination.

However, more investigation is generally required to determine the source of this particular kind of CNS tumour.

What are the risk factors for anaplastic ependymoma?

While anaplastic ependymoma can afflict people at any age, children under the age of four are the most commonly affected.

However, it's still uncommon. There are just 0.43 instances for every 100,000 children under the age of four in the United States.

Additional variables linked to a marginally elevated incidence of anaplastic ependymoma tumours consist of:
  • having anomalies on chromosome 22
  • having adenomatous polyposis in their family
  • Having type 2 neurofibromatosis (NF2)


The most frequent type of CNS tumour that affects young children is anaplastic ependymoma. Fewer than a few hundred Americans are diagnosed with it annually, making it an uncommon condition.

It's crucial to consult a doctor to find out more about anaplastic ependymoma as its symptoms might mimic those of several other illnesses.


What causes anaplastic ependymoma?

Researchers don't yet know what causes these tumors

How long can you live with anaplastic ependymoma?

The 5-year survival rate for ependymoma is 83.9%

What is the most common type of ependymoma?

Posterior fossa ependymoma

Can ependymoma be cured?

Currently, radiation therapy may come after complete surgery as the usual treatment for a low-grade ependymoma. Due to the position of the tumour and worries about potentially harming the surrounding brain during surgery, complete surgical excision is frequently not feasible.

Is ependymoma painful?

neck and back pain

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