Several research studies have been conducted to seek more information on childhood ependymoma, related prevention methods, diagnostic process at the initial phase, and best treatments strategies. Research on childhood ependymoma implicates the ongoing clinical trials and appropriate doctor communication with the guardians providing effective treatment. Researchers are exploring whether these genetic variations are associated with the disease prognosis and if they can aid in identifying new targeted ways to treat ependymoma better. A recent study from the children’s oncology group portrayed that there has been an improved survival rate in patients who received chemotherapy as part of treatment. Several studies focus on improvising radiation therapy procedures. Studies are examining ways to better plan and give radiation therapies to patients. An external beam-radiation therapy called Proton beam therapy that uses protons instead of x-rays to destroy cancer cells is also being studied. Some Clinical trials that tested the efficiency of immunotherapy in treating children with ependymoma are being conducted. Researchers are studying new combinations of chemotherapy and other drugs to analyze their ability to shrink any tumor that remains after a surgical procedure. Researchers are closely looking at the molecular features of tumors to understand whether they can aid doctors in predicting the probability of cancer recurs or returning to the body. Palliative care is being integrated to improve the patients’ quality of life.
Advancement in Childhood Ependymoma Research
Scientists and doctors are constantly trying to analyze and learn more about ependymoma through research. They are trying to devise better strategies to prevent and treat the disease. Many studies focus on discovering methods to provide the best possible treatment and care to children, teens and adults affected by ependymoma tumors.
Many clinical trials are underway that are testing different treatment options for ependymoma. Parents or guardians of the affected child are encouraged to talk with their child’s doctor about all the best available diagnostic methods, treatment options, and current research concerning childhood ependymoma.
The following are some latest advancements happening with respect to childhood ependymoma treatment and care.
- Tumor genetics: A current study points out that, based on the patterns of variation to the genes within the tumors, there can be different subtypes of ependymoma. Researches are analyzing whether these genetic variations are associated with the disease prognosis and if it can aid in identifying new targeted ways to treat ependymoma better 1.
- Chemotherapy after surgery and radiation therapy: A recent study from the children’s oncology group portrayed that there has been an improved survival rate in patients who received chemotherapy as part of treatment 2. But some other studies specified the side effects associated with chemo procedures. Hence, it is essential to talk with the doctor or healthcare team regarding the pros and cons of a chemo procedure after surgery or radiation therapy.
- Strategies to enhance radiation therapy: Several studies focus on improvising radiation therapy procedures. Studies are examining ways to better plan and give radiation therapies to patients.
Recent research showed that radiation therapy could be an effective way to treat brain tumors like childhood ependymoma 3. The procedure works well and is likely to create significantly fewer side effects for children or infants as young as one-year-old.
Researchers are also studying methods to better plan and administer radiation therapy to patients that primarily targets the tumor and spare the healthy non-cancerous parts from damage.
An external beam-radiation therapy called Proton beam therapy that uses protons instead of x-rays to destroy cancer cells is also being studied.
- Immunotherapy refers to a treatment procedure that uses the body’s immune system to fight and destroy a tumor. Immunotherapy involves using various drugs or medications that help activate the immune system and modify immune system cells to target tumor cells 4. Immunotherapy can also be in the form of tumor vaccines. Some Clinical trials are testing the efficiency of immunotherapy in treating children with ependymoma.
- New combinations of chemotherapy and other treatment options: Researches are studying new combinations of chemotherapy and other drugs to analyze their ability to shrink any tumor that remains after a surgical procedure. A chemo procedure enables doctors to perform additional surgery in children whose tumor growth couldn’t be removed entirely during the initial surgery. Also, studies analyze the efficiency of chemotherapy after radiation therapy and whether a combination of these can be useful in effectively managing tumor growth over the longer run.
- Predicting recurrences or the chance of the tumor returning to the body: Researchers are closely studying the molecular features of tumors to understand whether they can aid doctors in predicting the probability of cancer recurs or return in the body 5.
- Palliative care: Palliative or supportive care forms an integral part of tumor treatment and care. Many clinical trials are studying and analyzing better ways to manage and relieve the symptoms and side effects of ependymoma treatment, thereby improving the quality and comfort of a patient’s life.
- 1.Zaytseva M, Papusha L, Novichkova G, Druy A. Molecular Stratification of Childhood Ependymomas as a Basis for Personalized Diagnostics and Treatment. Cancers. Published online October 1, 2021:4954. doi:10.3390/cancers13194954
- 2.Lin FY, Chintagumpala M. Advances in Management of Pediatric Ependymomas. Curr Oncol Rep. Published online September 14, 2015. doi:10.1007/s11912-015-0470-0
- 3.Merchant TE, Li C, Xiong X, Kun LE, Boop FA, Sanford RA. Conformal radiotherapy after surgery for paediatric ependymoma: a prospective study. The Lancet Oncology. Published online March 2009:258-266. doi:10.1016/s1470-2045(08)70342-5
- 4.Pollack IF, Jakacki RI, Butterfield LH, Okada H. Ependymomas: development of immunotherapeutic strategies. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics. Published online October 2013:1089-1098. doi:10.1586/14737175.2013.840420
- 5.Adolph JE, Fleischhack G, Gaab C, et al. Systemic chemotherapy of pediatric recurrent ependymomas: results from the German HIT-REZ studies. J Neurooncol. Published online October 16, 2021:193-202. doi:10.1007/s11060-021-03867-8