Meningiomas Brain Tumors

Meningiomas are benign tumors that develop in the thin membranes, or meninges, that cover the brain and spinal cord. Meningiomas usually grow slowly and do not invade surrounding normal tissue. They rarely spread to other parts of the central nervous system or body.

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Symptoms

The symptoms of a meningioma tumor depends on its location. This is one of the few tumors that produces characteristic bony changes in the skull that can sometimes be seen on skull X-rays.

Causes and Risk Factors

They are the only brain tumor more common in women than men. They affect people of all ages, but are most common between the ages of 40 and 60 years old.

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Diagnosis

A neurologic evaluation should be performed if a patient has slowly increasing signs of mental dysfunction, new seizures or persistent headaches or if there is evidence of pressure inside the skull (e.g., vomiting, swelling or protrusion of the blind spot at the back of the eye).

A neurologist (a doctor who has received special additional training in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the brain, spinal cord and nerves) may order a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan, as well as chest X-rays, to determine if the tumor has spread from another part of the body. An MRI usually finds low-grade astrocytomas earlier than CT. Cerebral angiography is rarely used to diagnose a brain tumor but may be done before surgery.

Depending on the patient's symptoms, specialized tests may be performed, including tests of the field of vision, the sharpness of vision and hearing. If the results of other tests are not conclusive, an examination of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord may be done. Although this is usually unnecessary, it is essential for diagnosing chronic or subacute meningitis or for identifying benign hypertension inside the skull.

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Treatments

Surgery, particularly for medium to large meningioma brain tumors, is more successful than for most other brain tumor types and is the preferred treatment for accessible meningiomas. However, very large meningioma tumors may get into brain tissues or surrounding veins, making surgical removal difficult.

Stereotactic radiosurgery may be used for meingiomas that can be reached with surgery or for remaining tumor after traditional surgery has been done.

Recurrent meningiomas may require additional treatment that includes radiation therapy.