An ependymal tumor usually begins in cells that line the fluid -filled spaces in the brain and around the spinal cord. An ependymal tumor may also be called an ependymoma. Grades of ependymomas include the following:
Ependymoma (grade I or II):
A grade I or II ependymoma grows slowly and has cells that look something like normal cells. There are two types of grade I ependymoma — myxopapillary ependymoma and subependymoma. A grade II ependymoma grows in a ventricle (fluid-filled space in the brain) and its connecting paths or in the spinal cord. In some cases, a grade I or II ependymoma can be cured.
Anaplastic ependymoma (grade III):
An anaplastic ependymoma grows quickly and spreads into nearby tissues. The tumor cells look different from normal cells. This type of tumor usually has a worse prognosis than a grade I or II ependymoma.
Ependymomas are rare and can occur at any age, but most often occurs in young children. Children with ependymoma may experience headaches and seizures. Ependymoma that occurs in adults is more likely to form in the spinal cord and may cause weakness in the part of the body controlled by the nerves that are affected by the tumor.
Some other possible symptoms are:
- Changes in mood and personality
- Problems with coordination and balance
- Weakness in an arm or leg
As with most central nervous system tumors, it’s not known what causes ependymomas, but research is in progress. Previous radiation to the head or a genetic (hereditary) condition called type II neurofibromatosis may be risk factors.