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What is a Anaplastic Ependymoma?

By Sarah Sullins
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Anaplastic ependymoma is a type of malignant ependymoma tumor commonly found in young patients. These tumors grow rapidly and many people who develop them will experience complications or even die. This is especially true if the tumor is not caught and treated early. The majority of these growths, although rare, appear in children and adults that are younger than 25 years old. Tumors like this can appear in older adults, but are much more rare.

Ependymoma tumors grow from cells inside of the brain cavity or spinal column. Depending on where the tumor is located, it can produce several different symptoms. Difficulty walking, trouble sleeping, memory loss, and vision impairments may occur because of an anaplastic ependymoma. Tumors that are situated at the back of the brain may block off cerebrospinal fluid, causing vomiting, headaches, and nausea. A child may become uninterested in food and eating because of the anaplastic lesion.

The diagnosis of an anaplastic ependymoma can sometimes be difficult because the symptoms associated with the tumor are also associated with other diseases and maladies. Typically, an MRI or CT scan is used to locate the tumor. Many doctors prefer to use an MRI because they believe it shows more detail. When a doctor looks at the tumor under a microscope, it can also be difficult for him to determine whether the tumor is a regular ependymoma or an anaplastic ependymoma because there are very subtle differences between the two kinds of cells.

Normal ependymomas will be slow-growing and usually are treated with radiation. These types of growths are considered to be low-grade. Anaplastic ependymomas, however, are considered as high-grade tumors or lesions, and many times require surgery and radiation. Chemotherapy is also sometimes used. The type of treatment that a doctor recommends for a malignant ependymoma generally depends on the age of the patient.

Surgery to remove the tumor is not always a cure. Although a surgeon may remove all of the tumor, malignant cells may still be present in the brain. These cells may be killed by chemotherapy or radiation. If they are not, the cancerous cells may form a new tumor or may spread through the cerebrospinal fluid to other areas of the body. Anaplastic ependymoma cells that have spread from the brain are more likely to be found in patients that are less than five years of age.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1006039 — On Jan 19, 2022

My daughter was just diagnosed with an Anaplastic Ependymoma grade 3. They got all of the tumor but we are getting ready for 6 weeks of radiation at Mayo. I am so afraid that it will come back, especially after reading the stories. Is there anyone out there with a happy ending that had had this? Thank you! -- AC

By anon358471 — On Dec 11, 2013

My little sister passed in November 2013. She was diagnosed in early 2011. She had radiation and surgery. She was clean for about two years, then she had an MRI in early November 2013 and found it had regrown and spread all over her brain and spinal cord. She slipped into a coma from fluids building up about a week later. She passed a few days after.

So, you never know. Just let them know you love them as much as possible, because you never know. If they get a shunt, be vigilant. If they show any signs like disorientation or dizziness, or are more or less out of it, acting drunk almost, go to the emergency room immediately. Don't wait. We were too late on that and we lost her.

By anon327481 — On Mar 28, 2013

My husband died three months after he had the surgery. He had the grade three ependymoma in c3 c3 c4 in the spinal cord. He had radiotherapy. Why did he die early?

By anon270768 — On May 23, 2012

My son was originally diagnosed on Christmas day of 2008. They did surgery and removed 99 percent of the tumor, and then he had to have six weeks of radiation. We've been going back for mri's for the last three years now, and his most recent mri showed a spot where the last tumor was, and also a spot on his spinal cord. I pray that it is nothing, but if it is that they can remove this one safely also.

By anon265831 — On May 03, 2012

My girlfriend's daughter was diagnosed at age three and now at age five is dealing with her fourth recurrence of the disease. She is a prime example of the last paragraph. She has already done the allowed three rounds of radiation to her brain and spine and now they will have to rely on chemo and other drugs to hopefully kill the tumors. I pray for all of you that have this horrendous form of cancer.

By anon156535 — On Feb 27, 2011

well, as to how long a person lasts depends on many factors, as most doctors will tell you. I myself was diagnosed with an anaplastic ependymoma grade 3 tumor at age 20 growing from the artery wall in the center of my brain out to my right hand side.

after five surgeries, leaving me with a tennis ball size chunk of brain taken over and out and now a cavity full of fluid under the skull, I also had chemo and a large dose of radiation. I am now 27 and only just made it over the hills. Now I have a mountain to climb with a sixth tumor back and growing and four others popping up in the brain and rapidly growing plus brain and spinal fluid full of cancerous nodes and I am still functioning pretty well so far, but I put some of my time down to not giving up on wanting to live and enjoy life. hopefully I can make it past 30.

By amypollick — On Jan 20, 2011

@anon144158: Please contact your doctor about referring your child to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. They will take children who are eligible for their programs, without regard for their ability to pay, and if you live far away, will pay for your transportation.

Those folks are working miracles every day. Please check into getting your child referred there.

By anon144158 — On Jan 18, 2011

For a child under the age of two, what's the best treatment to get the longest life in years and what is that?

By anon142687 — On Jan 13, 2011

how long does a person last?

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