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Meningioma tumors are the most common type of primary brain tumors in adults and usually are slow-growing tumors that typically aren’t cancerous. However, they can cause severe health problems if left untreated. Here’s what you need to know about meningioma symptoms, and what to do if you have been diagnosed with a meningioma brain tumor. Our team can help.

What is a meningioma tumor?

A meningioma is a tumor that starts in the meninges, the three layers of tissue that cover and help protect your brain and spinal cord. Meningiomas can form anywhere in the brain or spinal canal, but they are usually found in the outer curve of the brain.

While meningiomas can occur in anyone at any age, they are more commonly found in women and older individuals.

Meningiomas are classified into three grades: 

A grade I meningioma is referred to as a typical meningioma since it represents approximately 80% of all cases. It’s a benign tumor that grows slowly.

A grade II meningioma is called an atypical meningioma. While noncancerous, it grows more quickly and can be resistant to treatment.

A grade III meningioma is a malignant tumor known as an anaplastic meningioma. It grows and spreads rapidly but represents less than 2% of all meningioma cases.

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Symptoms of meningioma

Due to the slow growth rate of meningioma, it is common not to experience symptoms until the tumor is larger in size. They usually start gradually and are initially subtle. The meningioma symptoms a patient may experience will depend on its location but may include:

  • Seizures
  • Headaches
  • Confusion or memory problems
  • Visual disturbances, such as blurred vision or double vision
  • Weakness in arms or legs

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. 

Diagnosing meningioma

A meningioma tumor can be hard to diagnose because of its slow growth and mild symptoms—people often mistake them as simply normal signs of aging.  

A meningioma brain tumor diagnosis typically begins with a physical and neurological examination, followed by imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a computed tomography (CT) scan. These scans create detailed images of the brain to see if a tumor is present.  

If your diagnosis is uncertain, a biopsy may be performed to rule out other possible conditions and to determine the tumor grade. For help getting a diagnosis or a second opinion, or to determine next steps after receiving your test results, call Endeavor Health Neurosciences Institute’s Advanced Neurosciences Center. Our team of specialists is ready for you. 

Causes of meningioma

The exact cause of meningioma is unknown, but there are a few potential factors that could contribute to the development of these tumors.

  • Genetic mutation: A gene abnormality in chromosome 22, responsible for producing a tumor suppressing protein, may be a contributing factor.
  • Ionizing radiation: Exposure to radiation, such as radiation therapy, may increase the risk of a meningioma.
  • Female hormone: Since meningiomas are more common in women, some doctors believe there is a link between female hormones and meningiomas. While some research suggests this may be a factor, more research is needed. 

Treatment for meningioma

If you have a meningioma tumor, numerous treatments are available to help. Your healthcare team at the Advanced Neurosciences Center will create a highly individualized plan for you, and it may include one or more of the following: 

If your tumor is small and not growing or causing any disruptive symptoms, your doctor may recommend simply monitoring the tumor with no other active treatment. You will need to have regular check-ups and possibly follow-up MRI scans to see if it’s progressing. 

Removing a tumor may be the best option, especially for large tumors or if you are experiencing symptoms. The goal of the surgery is to remove as much of the tumor as safely as possible. Between 70% and 80% of people with meningioma are cured with total removal. However, achieving total removal may be limited by the tumors location and if the tumor is integrated with surrounding brain tissue. At the Advanced Neurosciences Center, we have innovative procedures and technology to increase the odds of success.

If a meningioma tumor can’t be completely removed surgically, your doctor may recommend radiation in addition to or as a substitute for surgery. There are a few different types of radiation: 

  • Stereotactic radiosurgery: This method delivers a targeted, high-intensity form of radiation that avoids surrounding healthy tissue. 
  • External beam radiation therapy: This is the most common form of radiation therapy. It directs high-dose radiation beams toward the tumor to shrink it and prevent it from continuing to grow.  
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy: This treatment uses computer software to modulate the intensity of the radiation directed at the tumor. This is best for meningiomas that are located near ultra-sensitive parts of the brain.  

If you have a malignant meningioma that cannot be sufficiently treated with surgery and radiation therapy, your doctor may suggest a course of chemotherapy.  

What to do after a diagnosis of meningioma

At the Advanced Neurosciences Center, we understand that each patient is unique and requires specialized care. Our team of experts will work with you to create a customized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs, with the latest in innovative technology and techniques

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