What Is Choroid Plexus Carcinoma?

  • Nurah EkhlaqueMasters in Biotechnology, Guru Ghasidas University, India
  • Zayan SiddiquiBSc in Chemistry with Biomedicine, KCL, MSc in Drug Discovery and Pharma Management, UCL


When you or a loved one receives a choroid plexus carcinoma (CPC) diagnosis, questions and concerns naturally arise. To make informed decisions about treatment and care, it's vital to understand this exceptionally rare condition.

In this comprehensive exploration, we'll delve into choroid plexus carcinoma, discussing its rarity, the main demographic it affects, its aggressive nature, common symptoms, potential causes, diagnostic procedures, treatment options, and long-term considerations for those dealing with this challenging condition. Furthermore, we'll provide a comprehensive summary to tie it all together and address some frequently asked questions to enhance your knowledge.

Understanding choroid plexus carcinoma

CPC is a rare type of brain cancer that originates in the choroid plexus, a brain structure responsible for producing cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord.1

The rarity of choroid plexus carcinoma

CPC is exceptionally rare, with only a small number of cases reported each year. This rarity complicates diagnosis and treatment due to limited research and clinical experience. Because of its scarcity, CPC is often referred to as an orphan disease (a rare disease), highlighting the need for increased awareness and research.

Primary demographic: children and rare occurrence in adults

CPC predominantly affects children, especially infants and young children. However, it can also affect adults, though less commonly. The rarity of this tumour in adults further complicates its diagnosis and treatment.2,3

Aggressive nature of choroid plexus carcinoma

CPC is known for its aggressive growth. Tumour cells within the choroid plexus tend to multiply rapidly, infiltrating nearby brain tissue. This invasive nature is concerning because it can compress and displace crucial brain structures. Moreover, this malignant tumour can spread to other parts of the central nervous system, including the spinal cord.1

Symptoms of choroid plexus carcinoma

Symptoms of CPC can vary widely among affected individuals. Clinical signs often result from increased intracranial pressure due to tumour growth, which obstructs the flow of cerebrospinal fluid within the brain's ventricles. Common symptoms include:

  • Headaches: Frequent and severe headaches are symptoms of choroid plexus carcinoma. These headaches tend to worsen over time and may not respond to over-the-counter pain medications2
  • Nausea and vomiting
    • Nausea and vomiting are particularly prominent symptoms, often occurring in the morning or with changes in head position. These symptoms occur due to higher pressure inside the skull1
  • Vision Changes: CPC can lead to visual disturbances and blurred vision, likely due to the tumour's impact on the optic nerves.2
  • Seizures: Unexplained seizures can occur as a result of the tumour's effect on the brain, manifesting as abnormal movements or loss of consciousness2
  • Behavioral changes: In children, CPC may lead to behavioral changes, such as irritability, mood swings, or alterations in personality. Parents and caregivers should be watchful for these shifts2
  • Difficulty walking and coordination problems: Choroid plexus carcinoma can affect balance and coordination, making walking and daily activities challenging. These motor difficulties can be particularly distressing for affected individuals

Causes of choroid plexus carcinoma

Ongoing research is exploring the exact cause of choroid plexus carcinoma. While the precise origins remain unclear, investigations suggest a connection between genetic mutations and the development of this rare brain tumour.

  • Genetic mutations: Genetic mutations are believed to play a significant role in the formation of choroid plexus carcinoma. These mutations can trigger uncontrolled cell proliferation within the choroid plexus, leading to tumour development1,2
  • Genetic and environmental factors: Researchers are diligently examining the interplay between genetic and environmental factors that may contribute to the occurrence of choroid plexus carcinoma. Identifying these factors is essential for advancing our understanding and developing targeted therapies1,2

Diagnosis and evaluation

Diagnosing CPC is a complex process that typically involves a combination of medical history, physical examinations, and advanced imaging studies. Common diagnostic methods include:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): MRI is a powerful imaging technique that provides detailed brain images, helping identify the presence and location of choroid plexus carcinoma. It reveals the tumour's size, extent, and characteristics1,2
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: CT scans offer additional insights into the tumour. While less detailed than MRI, they provide valuable information about the tumour's location and impact on surrounding structures1,2
  • Biopsy: In many cases, a biopsy is essential to confirm the diagnosis of choroid plexus carcinoma. A biopsy involves surgically removing a small sample of the tumour for laboratory analysis. This procedure not only confirms the presence of cancerous cells but also provides information about the tumour's grade and extent1,2
  • Cerebrospinal fluid analysis: Cerebrospinal fluid, surrounding the brain and spinal cord, can be analyzed for cancerous cells. This analysis is relevant when the tumour has spread to other parts of the central nervous system, potentially releasing cancer cells into the cerebrospinal fluid1,2

Treatment options

Treating choroid plexus carcinoma is a complex endeavour, with treatment choice depending on factors such as the tumour's location, size, grade, and the patient's age. Common treatment options include:

  • Surgical resection: Surgical removal of the tumour is often the first step in treating choroid plexus carcinoma. Surgeons aim to remove as much of the tumour as possible without damaging vital brain structures. Complete resection may not always be possible due to the tumour's location and invasiveness2
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy targets and destroys cancer cells within the body. It is often used to address remaining tumour cells after surgery or to manage tumour growth when surgical resection is not feasible2
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy employs high-energy beams to kill cancer cells or slow their growth. Typically administered after surgery, it eliminates any remaining cancer cells and reduces the risk of recurrence1
  • Clinical trials: Some individuals may participate in clinical trials, providing access to cutting-edge treatments and therapies in the experimental phase. These trials contribute to ongoing research and offer hope for patients1
  • Supportive care: Supportive care is essential in managing symptoms, reducing side effects, and enhancing the patient's overall quality of life. It may include pain and nausea medications, physical therapy, and emotional support for patients and their families1

Long-term considerations and prognosis

The long-term outlook for individuals with CPC varies based on factors like the tumour's grade, treatment success, and the patient's age. Close collaboration with a medical team is crucial to establishing an individualized care plan and addressing long-term considerations.

  • Survival rates: Survival rates differ depending on the disease's extent and treatment effectiveness. Early diagnosis and a comprehensive treatment approach that includes surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy can significantly improve survival rates
  • Follow-up care: Regular follow-up care is vital for monitoring the patient's condition and addressing potential recurrence or treatment-related complications. Appointments with neurologists and oncologists are essential components of long-term care

Current research on choroid plexus carcinoma (CPC) is focused on developing new and more effective treatments for this rare and aggressive cancer. Researchers are also working to better understand the causes and risk factors for CPC, and to develop new methods for early diagnosis.4

Research on CPC focuses on several key areas:

  • Targeted therapy: Scientists are creating drugs that specifically attack molecules involved in CPC's growth. They're also exploring existing drugs used for other cancers to see if they can be effective against CPC.1
  • Immunotherapy: Some medications help the body's immune system fight cancer. Researchers are designing new immunotherapy drugs for CPC and testing existing ones used for different cancers.1
  • Biomarkers: Biomarkers are molecules that help diagnose cancer, predict how well a patient responds to treatment, and track treatment progress. Scientists are working on new biomarkers for CPC and testing ones used for other cancers.1,5
  • Early detection: Finding CPC early is crucial for better treatment outcomes. Scientists are developing new methods like blood tests and imaging to diagnose CPC at an earlier stage.1

Additionally, researchers are conducting clinical trials to test new CPC treatments. Clinical trials are essential for developing more effective ways to treat cancer. A recent study shows that a chemotherapy clinical trial for the final phase of a drug is an effective a feasible form of treatment.6


Choroid plexus carcinoma is a rare and aggressive brain tumour that primarily affects children, although it can also occur in adults. While its exact cause remains under investigation, ongoing research aims to uncover its origins. Diagnosis involves imaging studies and, in many cases, a biopsy. Treatment may encompass surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and participation in clinical trials. Understanding this condition and seeking timely medical care is crucial for the best possible outcome.

In summary, choroid plexus carcinoma is a complex condition that necessitates a multi-disciplinary approach to diagnosis, treatment, and long-term care. While its rarity presents challenges, ongoing research and medical advancements continue to improve the outlook for affected individuals and their families.


Is choroid plexus carcinoma common?

No, choroid plexus carcinoma is an extremely rare condition, often referred to as an orphan disease.

Can adults develop choroid plexus carcinoma?

Yes, although it primarily affects children, it can also occur in adults, albeit less frequently.

What are the survival rates for choroid plexus carcinoma?

Survival rates vary, but early diagnosis and a comprehensive treatment approach can significantly improve outcomes.

Are there any preventive measures for choroid plexus carcinoma?

Currently, there are no known preventive measures, as the exact cause is still being studied. Timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment are the primary approaches to managing the disease.


  1. Choroid Plexus Tumors Diagnosis and Treatment - NCI. 17 Sept. 2018, Available from: https://www.cancer.gov/rare-brain-spine-tumor/tumors/choroid-plexus-tumors.
  2. Choroid Plexus Tumors’. Columbia Neurosurgery in New York City, 8 Apr. 2021, Available from: https://www.neurosurgery.columbia.edu/patient-care/conditions/choroid-plexus-tumors.
  3. Judkins, Alexander R., et al. ‘INI1 Protein Expression Distinguishes Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor from Choroid Plexus Carcinoma’. Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology, vol. 64, no. 5, May 2005, pp. 391–97. DOI.org (Crossref), Available from: https://doi.org/10.1093/jnen/64.5.391.
  4. Wolff, J. E. A., et al. ‘Choroid Plexus Tumours’. British Journal of Cancer, vol. 87, no. 10, Nov. 2002, pp. 1086–91. PubMed Central, Available from: https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bjc.6600609.
  5. Pienkowska, M., Choufani, S., Turinsky, A.L. et al. DNA methylation signature is prognostic of choroid plexus tumor aggressiveness. Clin Epigenet 11, 117 (2019). Available from: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13148-019-0708-z
  6. Wolff, J. E., Van Gool, S. W., Kutluk, T., Diez, B., Kebudi, R., Timmermann, B., Garami, M., Sterba, J., Fuller, G. N., Bison, B., & Kordes, U. R. (2022). Final results of the Choroid Plexus Tumor study CPT-SIOP-2000. Journal of neuro-oncology, 156(3), 599–613. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11060-021-03942-0
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Nurah Ekhlaque

Masters in Biotechnology, Guru Ghasidas University

I'm a highly motivated and skilled biotechnology professional, known for my strong background in research and laboratory work. My proficiency extends to cryosectioning, immunohistochemistry, confocal imaging, and various molecular biology techniques. I am detail-oriented and dedicated to consistently producing high-quality results.

My educational journey led me to a Master's degree in Biotechnology from Guru Ghasidas Vishwavidyalaya, India. This academic foundation, combined with my practical experience, fuels my commitment to advancing scientific research and improving human health.

My practical experience includes roles as a Research Assistant at Saarland University in Germany and as an Internship Research Trainee at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. In these positions, I mastered the use of cryosectioning, immunohistochemistry, and various laboratory techniques, consistently delivering high-quality data for scientific research.

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