by Michelle Badash, MS
The meninges are a protective lining around the brain and spinal cord. A meningioma is a tumor of these linings. Most meningiomas do not cause symptoms. But, if the meningioma grows, it can push on important parts of the brain. These tumors may be graded 1-3, with 3 being the most aggressive.
Malignant meningiomas (grade 3), also called anaplastic, are less common. These tumors are faster growing and very likely to return.
The exact cause of meningiomas is unknown. The development appears to be associated with genetics and certain hormones.
Meningiomas are more common in women, and in those aged 40-70 years. Other factors that may increase your chance of meningioma include:
Symptoms of meningioma are usually related to the area of the brain that is affected. Symptoms can also be due to an increase in the pressure inside the skull. Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You will have a neurological examination.
The brain can be evaluated with imaging tests. These may include:
Your brain activity may need to be measured. This can be done with an electroencephalogram (EEG).
Treatment will depend on the size and location of the tumor, its rate of growth, and your general health. The main types of treatment for meningiomas are:
Surgery may be recommended if the tumor is located in an area that is easily reached. Most surgeries can be done without causing neurological damage.
Tumors need blood flow to survive. In some instances, prior to surgery, a catheter may be inserted into blood vessels supplying the tumor. It will disrupt the flow of blood to the tumor. This will make the tumor shrink. The smaller tumor can then be removed with surgery.
Radiation therapy is used either on its own or after surgery has been done.
Some tumors may be located in an area that is difficult or too dangerous to operate on. Radiation may be used on its own if the tumor is causing symptoms and cannot be removed with surgery. Radiation therapy is an effective way of treating the tumor and stopping its growth.
If the tumor is a higher grade, radiation is generally considered. In this case, radiation may be given either on its own or after surgery to help prevent the tumor from coming back.
Your radiation oncologist will describe how the therapy is delivered and how many treatments are needed. You may receive 25-40 treatments on a daily basis, or fewer treatments if you are having stereotactic radiosurgery. This type of treatment delivers higher doses of radiation during each treatment.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Traditional chemotherapy as well as other systemically (oral or IV) therapies are used when other treatment methods fail.
There are no current guidelines to prevent meningiomas.
National Brain Tumor Society
National Cancer Institute
Brain Tumor Foundation of Canada
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Accessed February 14, 2018.
Rydzewski NR, Lesniak MS, Chandler JP, et al. Gross total resection and radiotherapy most significant predictors of of improved survival in patients with atypical meningioma. Cancer. 2017; doi: 10.1002/cncr.31088 [EPub ahead of print]
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Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 5/9/2016
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