What Meningioma Is, Symptoms and Treatments We Should Know. In addition, a meningioma is a tumor that arises from meninges – the membranes that surround your brain and spinal cord. Although not technically a brain tumor, it is included in this category because it can compress or squeeze the brain , nerves and surrounding vessels. Meningioma is the most common type of tumor that forms in the head .
Most meningiomas grow very slowly, often over many years without causing symptoms. But in some cases, their effects on adjacent brain tissue, nerves, or vessels can cause severe disability.
The meningiomas occur more commonly in women, and are often found in older ages but a meningioma may occur at any age.
As most meningiomas grow slowly, often without significant signs and symptoms, they do not always require immediate treatment and can be monitored over time.
What is Meningioma?
The meningiomas are tumors that develop in the cell membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The meningiomas (also called meningeal tumors) represent approximately 15% of all intracranial tumors. Most of these tumors are benign (non-cancerous and slow growing).
The meningiomas are usually removed by surgery. Some meningiomas may not need immediate treatment and may remain undetected for years. Most meningiomas are diagnosed in women between 30 and 50 years.
What are the symptoms of meningioma?
The signs and symptoms of a meningioma usually begin gradually and can be very subtle at first. Depending on where in the brain or, rarely, the spine is located, signs and symptoms may include:
Changes in vision , such as double viewing or blurriness.
Headaches that get worse over time.
Hearing loss or ringing in the ears.
Memory loss .
Loss of smell.
Weakness in your arms or legs.
What Causes Meningioma?
It is unclear what causes a meningioma. Doctors know that something changes some cells in their meninges to make them multiply out of control, leading to a meningioma tumor .
Whether this is because of genes you inherit, hormones (which may be related to the most frequent occurrence in women), the rare occurrence of previous radiation exposure or other factors remains largely unknown. There is no solid evidence to support the claim that meningiomas occur in association with cell phone use.
Risk factors for a meningioma include:
Radiation Treatment: Radiation therapy involving radiation to the head may increase the risk of a meningioma .
Female hormones: The meningiomas are more common in women, leading doctors to believe that female hormones may play a role. Some studies have also suggested a link between breast cancer and the riskof hormone-related meningioma .
Hereditary Nervous System Disorder: The rare neurofibromatosis disorder 2 increases the risk of meningioma and other brain tumors.
Obesity: A high body mass index (BMI) is an established risk factor for many cancers and a higher prevalence of meningiomas among obese people has been observed in several large studies. But the relationship between obesity and meningiomas is unclear.
How to Diagnose Meningioma:
A meningioma can be difficult to diagnose because the tumor is usually growing slowly. The symptoms of a meningioma can also be subtle and confused with other health conditions or nullified as normal signs of aging.
If your primary care physician suspects a meningioma , you may be referred to a neurological doctor (neurologist).
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To diagnose a meningioma , a neurologist will perform a complete neurological exam, followed by an imaging exam, such as:
CT Scan: CT scans take x-rays that create cross-sectional images of a complete image of your brain. Sometimes an iodine based dyeis used to enlarge the image.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): With this imaging study, a magnetic field and radio waves are used to create transverse images of the structures within your brain. Magnetic resonance imaging provides a more detailed picture of the brain and meningiomas .
In some cases, examination of a tumor specimen (biopsy) may be required to rule out other types of tumors and confirm a diagnosis of meningioma.
How to Treat Meningioma?
Common treatments for meningioma include:
Surgery: The most common treatment forsymptomatic meningiomas involves the removal of tumors. A surgeon usually performs a craniotomy to open the skull and remove the tumor.
A pathologist may examine a tissue biopsy to determine the degree of the tumor. If the tumor cannot be completely removed because of its location or other factors, the remainder of the tumor can be treated with radiation therapy.
Radiation Therapy: Some tumors may be considered inoperable because they are located too close to areas of the brain that control vital functions. Stereotactic radiosurgery treatments can be used to attack malignant tumor cells with a technique designed to reduce exposure to normal healthy cells.
The benefits of radiation may not be immediate, but may occur over time. When radiation treatments are successful, the tumor will stop growing, shrinking or, in some cases, disappearing.
Note: Also called active surveillance or vigilant surveillance, it is considered observation for meningiomas that do not cause symptoms. With this technique, the neurosurgeon continues to evaluate the tumor, often with the aid of periodic imaging and other tests. If the tumor grows or symptoms develop or worsen, surgery or radiation therapy is recommended.