Ependymoma - Childhood: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 10/2018

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about ependymoma and how to treat it. Use the menu to see other pages.

Doctors are working to learn more about ependymoma, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to children diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your child’s doctor about the best diagnostic and treatment options for your child.

  • Tumor genetics. New research has shown that there are several different subgroups of ependymoma that differ based on the patterns of changes to the genes within each tumor. Although research in this area is early, studies are being done to find out if these genetic differences can help find new ways to treat ependymoma.

  • Improved radiation therapy techniques. Research is ongoing on several ways to plan and give radiation therapy. These include:

    • The use of radiation therapy has often been avoided in infants and young children. However, there is increasing research that shows that radiation therapy works well and has relatively few side effects for children as young as 1.

    • New techniques for planning and giving radiation therapy are also being studied that better target the tumor, causing less damage to healthy parts of the brain.

    • Proton beam therapy is also being studied as a treatment for ependymoma. Proton beam therapy is a type of external-beam radiation therapy that uses protons rather than x-rays to destroy cancer cells.

  • New combinations of chemotherapy and other treatments. New types of chemotherapy and combinations of drugs are being researched with the goal of shrinking any tumor that remains after surgery. This use of chemotherapy is allowing doctors to perform additional surgery for children with ependymoma that was not completely removed during the original surgery. The risks and benefits of this are also being studied. In addition, the use of chemotherapy after radiation therapy is being studied to find out if the combination can better manage tumor growth over the long term.

  • Predicting recurrences. The molecular features of a specific tumor are being studied to find out if they can help doctors predict the likelihood that the cancer will come back after treatment.

  • Palliative care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current ependymoma treatments to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.

Looking for More About the Latest Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding childhood cancer, explore these related items that take you outside of this guide:

The next section in this guide is Coping with Treatment. It offers some guidance in how to cope with the physical, emotional, and social changes that ependymoma and its treatment can bring. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.