A cerebral meningioma is a brain tumor, although it is not a tumor of brain tissue. It is instead a tumor of the meninges, the thin layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord. In most cases, a meningioma is a benign brain tumor, meaning it is not cancerous.
What causes cerebral meningiomas is not known. They are more common in adult women, but they can also occur in men and in of people of all ages. Some scientists believe that a combination of environmental and genetic factors can lead to them.
A cerebral meningioma is usually very slow growing, and it can sometimes take years before any symptoms become evident. Common symptoms can include headaches, weakness in the arms and legs, and sudden changes in personality. If the tumor is in the spinal cord, then symptoms will usually include loss of sensation in the arms or legs.
When a person presents these symptoms to a doctor, an MRI is usually performed to try and detect the tumor. A CT scan and an ateriogram may also be performed. These tests can usually determine if the tumor is an actual tumor of brain tissue or a cerebral meningioma. Even with these tests, a doctor will usually need to perform a biopsy of the tumor's tissue to be sure.
The most common treatment for cerebral meningioma is surgery to remove the tumor outright. MRI images are used to map out brain function beforehand, and these images are then used as a map that helps the doctors remove as much of the tumor as possible and avoid damaging any critical portion of the brain.
If a cerebral meningioma cannot be completely removed in surgery, then radiation therapy is usually used. Most often doctors will use a special machine that can aim the radiation beams right at the cerebral brain tumor. This treatment usually has to be performed multiple times a week for several weeks.
Since a cerebral meningioma is not a cancerous, or malignant, brain tumor, sometimes doctors will suggest no treatment. Meniogiomas are very slow-growing tumors, and they do not always affect brain function or cause any serious symptoms. Even if a doctor decides that no treatment is needed, it is still usually recommended that the patient undergo yearly or monthly brain scans to track the tumor's growth to decide if and when treatment should begin.