What happens during surgery?
Our Jake animation can help you and your child understand what happens during neurosurgery.
There are four different sub-groups (types) of ependymoma. The type that your child has will be diagnosed from a sample taken during a biopsy and the best treatment will be decided by their medical team.
Surgery is the first line of treatment for ependymomas. Through surgery, the neurosurgeon will aim to remove as much of the tumour as possible. After surgery, the doctor will create a treatment plan consisting of radiotherapy, or radiotherapy with chemotherapy, based on the amount of tumour removed, the child's age and whether the disease has spread.
Radiotherapy, or radiation treatment, uses controlled doses of high energy beams to destroy tumour cells whilst causing as little damage as possible to surrounding cells. Radiotherapy may be used where surgery isn't possible, or after surgery to kill any remaining ependymoma cells. It can also be used to prevent a tumour from returning or to slow down its growth. Studies have shown that radiotherapy can be effective in managing ependymomas. However, there are short and long term risks associated with treating children with radiation, especially those younger than three years old.
Chemotherapy is a treatment which involves taking drugs that have been developed to kill tumour cells. Chemotherapy drugs are taken either orally in the form of a pill or intravenously using an injection or drip, and a treatment cycle is usually spread over a set period of time.
Results of clinical trials on the effectiveness of individual chemotherapy drugs for childhood ependymoma have been mixed, with some drugs appearing ineffective in targeting ependymomas and others reporting effectiveness in a limited percentage of cases. There is ongoing research on the possible effects of different combinations of chemotherapy drugs and radiotherapy in treating childhood ependymomas.
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