What is Meningioma?
Meningiomas are tumors that start in the meninges—the layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord. They are the most common type of tumor that can form in the head.
Meningiomas are usually benign tumors but some may be cancerous. Even if a meningioma is benign, it can grow large enough to cause compression of the brain or spinal cord, nerves, and vessels, resulting in severe neurological issues.
A meningioma tumor can grow slowly and may not cause outward symptoms. Some meningiomas can be monitored over time and do not require immediate treatment.
Types of Meningioma
Meningiomas are defined according to cellular tissue type and where they develop in the head or spine area. Types of meningioma include:
- Convexity meningiomas grow directly under the skull on the brain’s surface. They are the most common type of meningioma, making up around 20% of all cases, and are some of the most surgically accessible.
- Falcine and parasagittal meningiomas form in or around the falx—a thin layer of tissue between the two sides of the brain
- Intraventricular meningiomas develop in the ventricular system, the pathways in the brain where cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is produced and flows
- Olfactory groove meningiomas grow along the olfactory nerve, which plays a role in sense of smell. They can cause a loss of smell and, if they grow large enough, vision problems.
- Posterior fossa/petrous meningiomas form on the underside of the brain. Because this type of tumor can press on the cranial nerves, it can cause facial and hearing issues. Petrous meningiomas can cause a painful condition called trigeminal neuralgia.
- Skull base meningiomas form in the bones at the bottom of the skull and in the bony ridge at the back of the eyes
- Sphenoid wing meningiomas develop along the ridge of bone behind your eyes. Growth on the optic nerve can cause vision problems
- Suprasellar meningiomas form at the base of the skull near the optic nerve and the pituitary gland. They can cause vision issues and gland dysfunction
- Recurrent meningiomas - Some meningiomas can return after treatment
Meningiomas can be classified into three grades based on their characteristics. The three grades of meningioma are:
- Grade 1 or typical - This type of meningioma is slow growing. They are the most common type of tumor, making up around 80% of meningioma cases.
- Grade 2 or atypical - These mid-grade tumors are harder to treat and have a higher risk of growing back after removal
- Grade 3 or anaplastic - This is a malignant (cancerous) type of tumor that can grow and spread quickly
Symptoms & Signs of Meningioma
Meningioma symptoms will vary depending on the size, location, and type of the tumor. As meningiomas can be slow-growing, signs may appear gradually over time and some people may not experience any symptoms at all.
Signs and symptoms of brain meningioma can include:
- Vision problems, such as blurriness, seeing double, or vision loss
- Ringing in the ears
- Vomiting and nausea
- Loss of smell
- Memory issues
- Numbness or paralysis in certain parts of the body
- Weakness in the arms or legs
What Causes Meningioma?
The exact causes of meningioma are unknown, but research shows that 40% to 80% of meningiomas have an abnormality in chromosome 22.
There are certain factors that could increase your chances of having a meningioma tumor, including:
- Gender - Women are more than twice as likely to develop a noncancerous meningioma than men
- Age - Meningioma is rare in children, and most likely to occur in adults 65 and older
- Race/ethnicity - In the United States, meningioma rates are higher in black people than in white people
- Radiation - Prior exposure to radiation or radiation therapy, particularly radiation to the head, may raise your risk of developing meningioma
- Neurofibromatosis type 2 - People with this rare genetic disorder may have an increased risk for tumors of the central nervous system, including meningiomas
In addition to the symptoms associated with meningiomas, complications from this type of tumor can include:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Personality changes
- Language/speaking difficulties
- Vision loss
Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Meningioma Care
NewYork-Presbyterian is home to some of the most experienced neurologists and cancer care specialists in the nation. Our physicians can help identify the signs of meningioma and provide treatment options tailored to your diagnosis and needs.
For compassionate meningioma care, contact the experts at NewYork-Presbyterian today.