Treatment for Adults

Treatment for Adults

When possible, removing the tumor is the first step in brain tumor treatment. A tumor’s location is one of the main factors in the success of a surgical procedure. If the brain tumor cannot be completely removed, a partial removal or biopsy will likely be performed.

Currently, the standard therapy for low-grade ependymoma is complete surgical removal. If this cannot be performed, radiation therapy is usually given after recovery from the operation. Complete surgical removal is often not possible because of the location of the brain tumor and the concern for damage to surrounding brain tissue during the operation.

For patients with the more aggressive anaplastic ependymoma, chemotherapy may be given in addition to radiation in hope that brain tumor cells will be eliminated. However, there are only a limited number of studies completed in adults that evaluate treatment of patients with these aggressive anaplastic ependymoma tumors because of the rarity of the diagnosis.

It is common for a physician to only see a handful of patients with ependymoma each year, making it difficult to care for enough patients to evaluate a particular brain cancer treatment. A primary goal of the CERN Foundation is to establish a network of centers to evaluate new treatments for patients with ependymoma. You can learn more about our projects and collaboration as well as available clinical trials for ependymoma patients by visiting the About CERN page.

Brain Cancer Treatment Details

thumb_Final_adult_icons Brain tumor treatment for adults includes one or a combination of any of these options:

Surgery

Studies show if all visible brain tumors can be removed, there is a better chance for long-term survival. Fortunately, advancing technologies allow for further safe removal of brain tumor tissue. Surgery is performed by a neurosurgeon and involves entering the skull, neck or spine to remove the tumor.

Read more about neurosurgery.

Chemotherapy

Although chemotherapy has many short-term side effects, it has fewer long-term side effects than radiation therapy.

Currently, the most common chemotherapy treatment used for malignant brain tumors is called temozolomide (Temodar®). Temozolomide is taken orally and offers patients more freedom than traditional chemotherapy that is administered through the veins. However, the role of temozolomide for ependymomas in adults has not been fully established. For additional information, visit temodar.com.

Learn more about the various other types of chemotherapy options.

Radiotherapy

Conventional radiation therapy is used frequently to fight ependymoma. This process uses external beams of x-rays, gamma rays or protons aimed at the brain tumor to kill cancer cells and shrink brain tumors, and the therapy is usually given over a period of several weeks. Newer techniques of delivering radiation that targets the brain tumor while protecting nearby healthy tissues have been implemented over the past two decades.

Read more about specific radiation options, including brachytherapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), radiosurgery and more.

Alternative and Complementary Therapies

The CERN Foundation is not currently investigating the effects of alternative and complementary therapies on ependymoma. However, some patients research these options with the guidance of their physicians. Some options include massage, diet and chiropractic treatment. There is a thorough alternative therapies section on the MD Anderson website that includes the consumer version of the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.

Learn more about these types of therapies.

If you or your medical team has a specific question on the treatment options for ependymoma, please contact us.