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Ependymoma Treatment

An ependymoma is a rare type of brain or spinal cord tumor. About 200 children in the United States are diagnosed with ependymoma each year. Survival rates depend on how much of the tumor can be removed with surgery and the molecular features of the tumor.

Learn more about ependymoma on Together by St. Jude™ online resource.

Types of ependymomas

Ependymomas can be called different names, depending on:

  • Where they are in the brain or spine
  • The tumor features
  • The types of molecular or genetic changes (mutations) that caused the tumor to develop.

Because there are different types of ependymomas, molecular testing must occur on your child’s tumor to get a correct diagnosis.

Common types of ependymoma in children include:

  • Posterior fossa ependymoma
    • Posterior fossa ependymoma group A (PFA)
    • Posterior fossa ependymoma group B (PFB)
    • Posterior fossa ependymoma, not otherwise specified (NOS)
  • Supratentorial ependymoma
    • Supratentorial ependymoma, ZFTA fusion, (previously called RELA ependymoma)
      • Most common is the ZFTA-RELA fusion, but ZFTA can have a different fusion partner such as MAML or NCOA.
    • Supratentorial ependymoma, YAP1 fusion
    • Supratentorial ependymoma, not otherwise specified (NOS)
  • Spinal ependymoma
  • Myxopapillary ependymoma
  • Spinal ependymoma, MYCN amplified

It is important for your child’s tumor to have molecular testing completed. This will ensure that your doctor has the information to form a plan for treating your child.

Treatment of ependymoma

Ependymoma is often treated with surgery, followed by radiation. Traditional chemotherapy has been used to treat ependymoma, but the results are mixed and have not been beneficial. We are exploring other medicines to improve the survival of this disease.

Current strategies include:

  • Surgery to remove all or part of the tumor.
  • Radiation using high-energy x-rays and other types of radiation to kill tumor cells and stop them from growing
  • Chemotherapy used along with surgery when tumors are difficult to remove. Chemotherapy can shrink the tumor to help brain surgeons (neurosurgeons) later fully remove the tumor before radiation.
  • Medicines to help control symptoms and improve quality of life during treatment

Ependymoma clinical trials

St. Jude clinical trials have produced new, groundbreaking treatments for serious childhood diseases. Our goal is to give each child the best treatment with the lowest number of side effects.

Our doctors and scientists work together to find better ways to treat patients. In many cases, new treatments are being developed right here on the St. Jude campus.

We also take part in trials developed by the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium (PBTC). Many of our doctors and scientists play key roles in developing these large studies. They happen at centers across the United States.

Learn more about clinical research at St. Jude.

PBTC48: Optune Device in Children with Certain High-Grade Glioma or Ependymoma Brain Tumors

Study goal:

The main purpose of this study is to see if the Optune System is safe to use in children. Researchers also want to find out if children are able to wear the device as instructed.


Between 5 and 21 years old

Ependymoma care at St. Jude

St. Jude provides the highest quality of care for patients with ependymoma::

  • We bring together medical experts and specially trained staff to care for your child. We also work with brain surgeons (neurosurgeons) at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.
  • We have a special team that helps better understand the makeup of the tumor. This team includes doctors and scientists who study:
    • Cancer cells
    • How the cancer happened
    • Current medicines and treatments to kill cancer cells
    • What makes cancer cells grow and what new medicines can stop them
    • New medicines and other therapies to improve how treatments work
  • Our brain tumor clinical trials have led to better therapies in children. These include lower-dose therapies, targeted therapy, and proton therapy. These treatments kill cancer cells while sparing healthy cells. They may lessen side effects that affect brain function after treatment for some types of brain tumors.
  • The St. Jude Proton Therapy Center is the first center in the world that treats only children with this therapy.
  • Along with the treatment studies constantly being developed at St. Jude, the staff also treats patients on studies developed by the Children’s Oncology Group, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium, and the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium. Many St. Jude staff members play key roles in developing these studies. They are large trials carried out at multiple centers across the United States. 
  • St. Jude offers a dedicated team of specialists to meet the needs of children with brain tumors, including:

More reasons to choose St. Jude for care include:

  • We are consistently ranked among the best childhood cancer centers in the nation by US News & World Report.
  • At St. Jude, we have created an environment where children can be children and families can be together.
  • We lead more clinical trials for childhood cancer than any other hospital in the U.S. 
  • St. Jude is the only National Cancer Institute–designated Comprehensive Cancer Center just for children. A Comprehensive Cancer Center meets rigorous standards for research to develop new and better approaches to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer.
  • The nurse-to-patient ratio at St. Jude is about 1:3 in hematology and oncology and 1:1 in the Intensive Care Unit.
  • Patients may be able to get expert, compassionate care and treatment closer to their homes through the St. Jude Affiliate Program.

Get more information about the Brain Tumor Treatment program at St. Jude.

A statue of children running and holding hands

Seeking treatment at St. Jude

Patients accepted to St. Jude must have a disease we treat and must be referred by a physician or other qualified medical professional. We accept most patients based on their ability to enroll in an open clinical trial.

How to seek treatment

How to get brain tumor treatment at St. Jude

You can start the referral process by letting your doctor know you would like a second opinion from St. Jude. They can contact our 24-hour beeper service or contact our brain tumor coordinator. You may also contact the brain tumor coordinator directly with questions. 

Learn more about the types of brain tumors we treat at St. Jude and our brain tumor eligibility requirements.

Physician / Patient Referral Office

Call: 1-888-226-4343 (toll-free) or 901-595-4055 (local)  | Email:
Fax: 901-595-4011 | 24-hour pager: 1-800-349-4334

Contact the Brain Tumor Team directly:

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