Meningioma

Meninges are the layers of tissue that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. Meningiomas are the most common noncancerous tumors in the meninges of the brain and spinal cord. These arise from the abnormal growth of the cells in the meninges. Approximately, 96% of meningiomas occur within the skull and the remaining 4% in the spinal column. Most meningiomas are benign, but sometimes the growth of meningiomas can be fatal. Some meningiomas are classified as atypical, which are neither benign nor malignant but fall in between the two categories.

Signs and Symptoms

As the meningiomas grow slowly, the symptoms develop gradually. The symptoms depend on the location of meningioma either in the brain or spinal cord. The signs and symptoms of meningiomas include:

  • Changes in vision
  • Headaches
  • Hearing and memory loss
  • Loss of smell
  • Seizures
  • Blurred vision
  • Weakness in arms or legs
  • Numbness
  • Speech problems
  • Problems with balance

Causes

The exact cause of meningioma is unknown. Something that alters the cells can make them multiply extensively leading to a meningioma tumor. This may be because of an inherited gene (Neurofibromatosis-type 2) or exposure to radiation, or hormones (progesterone) or a combination of these factors.

Complications

The condition of meningioma and its treatment procedures (surgery and radiation therapy), may lead to long-term complications such as difficulty in concentrating, memory loss, personality changes, and seizures.

Risk factors

Meningiomas are more likely to occur in women compared to men. The occurrence of meningiomas is more common in older women comparatively. They can occur even in the males of any age, including children.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of meningioma is made with the help of a brain scan and other imaging tests such as:

The diagnosis of meningioma is made with the help of a brain scan and other imaging tests such as:

Computerized Tomography (CT) scan: Cross-sectional images of the brain and head are taken by X-rays in different directions. The images are combined to create a full picture of the brain. These images help in identifying meningioma tumors in the meninges of the brain or spinal cord. Sometimes an iodine-based dye is also used to augment the picture quality.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): High-frequency radio waves along with strong magnetic field are used to create cross-sectional images of the inner structures of the brain. MRI scans give a detailed picture of the brain and meningiomas.

Sometimes, a biopsy of the tumor may be required to determine whether it is benign or malignant.

 

Treatment of Meningioma

Meningiomas do not require immediate treatment as they do not show any symptoms in the early stage. Periodical brain scans are required to know the growth rate of meningiomas. The treatment of meningiomas depends on the size and location.

Radiation Therapy: It destroys any remaining meningioma cells after the surgery and reduces the chance of recurrence of meningioma. In radiation therapy, high-powered energy beams are focused at the tumor cells to destroy them.

Advances in radiation therapies such as fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) and intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) employ high doses of radiation to the meningioma while reducing radiation to healthy tissues.

Radiosurgery: It does not involve incisions. It is a radiation treatment that aims several beams of powerful radiation at a precise point. Radiosurgery is an option for meningiomas that cannot be removed by surgery.

Fractionated Radiation: It is a treatment option for large meningiomas that are present near the sensitive areas such as optic nerve which cannot tolerate the high intensity of radiosurgery. In this procedure, radiation is delivered in small fractions over time. The treatment may be carried out for 30 days.

Self Management

Reduce stress, eat nutrient-rich diet, exercise daily, and have an adequate sleep. These measures may not cure your meningioma, but they help you feel better while recovering from surgery or radiation therapy.