The symptoms of an ependymal tumor depend on the tumor’s location and size. In neonates and infants, an early symptom may be enlargement of the head, and then irritability, sleepiness and vomiting as the tumor grows. In older children and adults, headache, nausea and vomiting are the most commonly seen signs of ependymal tumors. These symptoms may indicate hydrocephalus, a condition that occurs if the tumor blocks the drainage of cerebrospinal fluid.
Headaches are a common symptom and are usually worse in the morning. In addition, a tumor located near the brain stem may cause one or both eyes to cross, difficulties with balance and trouble walking. A tumor growing near the brain stem or the upper part of the spinal cord may cause neck pain. Tumors in the cerebral hemispheres may lead to seizures, headache and weakness of one side or part of the body, while spinal cord tumors can cause leg or back pain, which can sometimes be severe enough to wake the patient up from sleep, as well as tingling sensations, numbness, and weakness in the arms or legs. In addition, symptoms of a tumor in the lower part of the spine can include trouble with bladder or bowel control.