Meningiomas are often benign tumors arising from the coverings of the brain and spinal cord. They represent about one-third of all primary brain tumors and occur most frequently in middle-aged women. Meningiomas usually grow inward, causing pressure on the brain or spinal cord. They also can grow outward toward the skull, causing it to thicken. Most meningiomas are noncancerous, slow-growing tumors. Some contain sacs of fluid (cysts), mineral deposits (calcifications), or tightly packed bunches of blood vessels.
Although meningiomas are referred to as brain tumors, they do not grow from brain tissue. They arise from the meninges, which are three thin layers of tissue covering the brain and spinal cord. These tumors are most often found near the top and the outer curve of the brain. Tumors may also form at the base of the skull.
Meningiomas usually grow slowly, and may reach a large size before interfering with the normal functions of the brain. The resulting symptoms depend on the location of the tumor within the brain. Headache and weakness in an arm or leg are the most common symptoms. However, seizures, personality changes, and/or visual problems may also occur.
Surgery and radiation are the most common forms of treatment for meningioma. Surgery is the primary treatment for meningiomas, although some tumors may not be removed this way. Radiation therapy may be used to tumors that cannot be removed with surgery, tumors that are not completely removed in surgery, malignant/anaplastic tumors, or recurrent tumors.
Careful observation is sometimes the best course of action for patients with meningioma. Scans are performed at regular intervals during this time, and any new or unusual symptoms should be reported to your doctor right away.
Meningiomas account for about 36.1% of all primary brain tumors, which are tumors that form in the brain or its coverings. They are most likely to be found in adults older than 60; the incidence appears to increase with age. Rarely are meningiomas found in children. They occur about twice as often in women as in men.