A meningioma brain tumor is an abnormal growth which arises from the thin sheets of tissue, known as meninges, that enclose the spinal cord and brain. Usually, a meningioma is a benign tumor, meaning it is not cancerous and does not spread to other parts of the body. Occasionally, a meningioma can be a cancerous or malignant tumor, but this is very rare. In the early stages, a meningioma brain tumor may not cause any symptoms and no treatment may be required. If the brain tumor grows larger it may interfere with surrounding brain tissue, nerves or blood vessels and surgical removal may be necessary.
Mengingiomas may develop in any part of the brain or spinal canal. They occur more often in women and the chance of having a meningioma increases with age. Possible symptoms of a meningioma brain tumor can include seizures, headaches, visual disturbances and hearing difficulties. Weakness of a limb may be experienced in some cases, and there could be memory loss. The exact symptoms will vary depending on the precise location of the tumor and any area of the brain which is affected.
Treatment of a meningioma brain tumor depends on the size of the growth, whether it is causing any symptoms and how quickly it is enlarging. Sometimes the meningioma causes an increase in pressure inside the cranium, or skull, and this generally needs to be treated before carrying out any other procedures. When increased pressure is due to the tumor blocking the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain, a tube called a shunt may be used to allow accumulated fluid to drain away. If swelling has developed around the meningioma, and caused pressure to build up, steroid medication can be used to reduce this.
Surgery is the main form of treatment for a meningioma brain tumor. Whenever possible, the operation involves complete removal of the tumor. Occasionally the position of a meningioma may make it impossible to avoid leaving part of the tumor behind, or surgery may be too risky to attempt.
Another treatment, known as radiotherapy, is sometimes carried out to destroy any remaining tumor cells after surgery, or it may be used instead of a surgical procedure. Radiotherapy involves the use of high intensity beams of radiation targeted at the tumor. The outlook for a meningioma brain tumor will vary but it is usually excellent for tumors which can be completely surgically removed.