Meningiomas grow from the meninges, the layers of tissue covering the brain and spinal cord. As they grow, meningiomas can compress nearby brain tissue, cranial nerves and blood vessels. These tumours are 2-3 times more common in women compared to men.
- May arise after previous treatment from ionizing radiation or excessive X-ray exposure
- Accounts for 34 percent of all primary brain tumours
- In very rare cases, can invade the skull or metastasize to the skin or lungs
- Women with meningiomas can experience tumour growth during pregnancy
- In rare cases, multiple meningiomas can develop at the same time in different parts of the brain and/or spinal cord
Common symptoms include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- Behavioural and cognitive changes
- Morning nausea and vomiting
- Vision changes
- Occasionally no symptoms occur and the tumour is detected incidentally
Treatment/Standard of Care
There are various treatment plans which depend on several factors including the age of the patient, the location and size of the meningioma, whether it is growing, previous treatment(s), and the grade of the tumour if already known:
- If there are no symptoms and the appearance is not that of a classic meningioma, the doctor may monitor the tumour using MRI.
- Surgery is the standard treatment; for tumours in favourable locations, up to 85 percent of meningiomas are curable with surgery.
Location, the amount of the tumour left after surgery, and the skill of the neurosurgeon, are the important elements in predicting a successful result. In selected cases, if the meningioma is unrespectable and classic in its appearance, a biopsy may not be necessary and radiation therapy is delivered as the primary treatment. Stereotactic radiosurgery (radiation) stops the growth of meningiomas in up to 80 percent of cases.
Some meningiomas can be difficult to remove surgically, and often such patients should be referred to neurosurgeons with particular expertise in meningioma and other skull-base tumour surgery.
Typically this type of brain tumour is not managed with chemotherapy, however, specific drugs are showing promise and an area of active research and development.