What Are Meningiomas?

Meningiomas are tumors that develop from the meninges, which are the protective membranes that cover the brain and the spinal cord. They can also develop in the nerves, the sinuses, or the bones of the skull.

Meningiomas are usually benign, or non-cancerous, tumors but occasionally they can be malignant, or cancerous. The condition is usually discovered during a routine exam and usually without any symptoms. While many people do not experience any symptoms, some may experience headaches, depression, seizures, vision changes, hearing loss, and balance issues.

Meningiomas can occur in anyone, however women are more likely to develop them. Older people are more likely to develop them too. They are usually easily treated with either surgery and/or radiation therapy.

What Causes Meningiomas?

The exact cause of meningiomas is unknown. However, certain factors can increase the risk of you developing a meningioma including:

  • Previous radiation or radium exposure
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Certain environmental exposures to substances such as solvents and insecticides

Who Should Have Their Meningiomas Treated?

Regardless of their size or location, all meningiomas should be treated. Even though most meningiomas are benign, or non-cancerous, they can cause serious symptoms and complications if left untreated.

To identity whether a meningioma should be treated, your doctor will consider the size, location, and severity of the tumor. Other factors, such as your age, medical history, and overall health, are also taken into consideration.

Treatment Options for Meningiomas

Treatment options for meningiomas depend on the size, location, and type of the tumor. Common treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

Surgery is usually the first option for treating meningiomas. Surgery may not be possible if the tumor is located in an area that is too hard to reach. In these cases, the tumor can be treated with radiation therapy.

The goal of radiation therapy is to shrink the tumor to a size where it can be removed surgically. This is done by exposing the tumor to intense beams of radiation. Radiation therapy can also be used to reduce any symptoms caused by the tumor.

In some cases, chemotherapy may be used in conjunction with surgery or radiation therapy to prevent the tumor from recurring. Although chemotherapy is an effective treatment, it is not suitable for all patients or all types of meningiomas.