Subependymomas and ependymomas are slow growing brain tumors associated with the central nervous system. They grow from the ependymal cells near the ventricles of the brain and spinal cord. The World Health Organization classifies tumors arising from ependymal cells based on their aggressiveness: grade 1 tumors (myxopapillary ependymomas and subependymomas) are the least aggressive, while ependymomas are grade 2 tumors, and grade 3 tumors are anaplastic ependymomas.
Because they rarely advance into surrounding tissue, low grade tumors like subependymomas and ependymomas are potentially curable with surgery. However, the delicate location of these tumors often makes the complete surgical removal of the tumor difficult.
Current treatment options
Since ependymal tumors are relatively rare, the role of radiation and chemotherapy in the treatment of subependymomas and ependymomas has not been well-defined. The majority of ependymal tumors don’t respond to current chemotherapy regimens, but radiation therapy has been shown to be beneficial and is currently the standard-of-care for tumors that are not completely removed through surgery. As yet, a standardization of dose and timing of radiation therapy has not been clearly determined and is being reassessed in light of discussions against whole brain irradiation.
Our research focus
Since there is little information available to guide decision-making for patients with ependymal tumors and physicians, the Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Subependymoma and Ependymoma Research Center will be investigating ways to enhance current treatment options and develop new therapies. Find out more about our work.