Ependymoma - Childhood: Introduction

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 11/2022

ON THIS PAGE: You will find some basic information about this disease and the parts of the body it may affect. This is the first page of Cancer.Net’s Guide to Childhood Ependymoma. Use the menu to see other pages. Think of that menu as a roadmap for this entire guide.

Childhood ependymoma is a rare, malignant type of brain tumor that most often occurs in young children. Ependymomas originate from radial glial cells, which are a type of normal cell within the brain.

A tumor begins when healthy cells change and grow out of control, forming a mass. A tumor can be malignant (cancerous) or non-malignant (benign). A malignant or cancerous tumor can grow and spread to other parts of the body. A non-malignant or benign tumor usually grows slowly but will not spread.

Even though a childhood ependymoma can occur in any part of the brain or spine, it most commonly occurs in the cerebellum. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that coordinates the body’s movements. (To see medical drawings of the different parts of the brain, visit another page in this guide.) In young adults, a subtype called a myxopapillary ependymoma sometimes occurs in the spinal cord.

Many times, ependymomas will block the normal flow of cerebral spinal fluid, which can lead to a condition called hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus means there is a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid, resulting in increased pressure within the brain. Because of its location, at the time of initial diagnosis, children with ependymoma often complain of headaches, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and difficulty walking.

This guide covers ependymoma diagnosed in children and teens, also called pediatric ependymoma. For information about brain tumors in adults, visit in a different guide on this website.

The next section in this guide is Statistics. It helps explain the number of children who are diagnosed with ependymoma and general survival rates. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.