Meningiomas are benign, slow-growing tumors, classified as brain tumors, but actually growing in the three protective membranes that surround the brain (meninges). Sometimes they cause thickening or thinning of adjoining skull bones. Meningiomas do not spread to other areas of the body.
Symptoms of Meningioma vary according to the size and location of the tumor.
FRONTAL TUMORS: These type of tumors can produce progressive weakness on one side of the body or in a localized area such as a leg. They can also cause seizures that may be limited to one area (focal), or generalized. Mental changes may also occur.
Seizures are caused by a disturbance in the electrical activity of the brain. They are usually sudden, brief attacks of altered consciousness, unusual muscle movements, sensations, and/or behavior. The patient with seizures may fall, experience jerky movements, appear to be in a daze or asleep. A focal seizure is localized in one part of the body. (For more information, choose “Epilepsy” as your search term in the Rare Disease database).
Mental changes may include drowsiness, listlessness, dullness, or personality changes.
If the tumor is in the dominant hemisphere, which is the left side of the brain for right handed persons, it can produce speech difficulties (aphasia). Frontal lobe tumors can also produce loss of sense of smell, blurred or double vision, and loss of bladder control (incontinence or sudden, unexpected urination).
TEMPORAL TUMORS: Temporal tumors, particularly in the non-dominant hemisphere, usually cause no symptoms other than seizures. However, some patients loose the ability to recognize and name objects (anomia) if the tumor is in the dominant hemisphere.
PARIETAL TUMORS: Meningiomas over the parietal lobe, which lies behind the frontal lobe, may produce either generalized seizures or focal sensory seizures which are characterized by a strange sensation (paresthesia) in a particular part of the body. The inability to identify an object by touching it (astereognosis) can also be caused by meningiomas of the parietal lobe.
The most common symptom associated with brain tumors is headache. However, not all tumors cause headaches.
The cause of Meningioma is unknown. Meningiomas usually develop from cell clusters associated with arachnoidal villi.
Meningiomas most frequently occur in middle-aged persons. They are more common in women than in men by a ratio of 3:2. These types of tumors are rare in childhood, and they seldom affect Americans of African descent.
Many meningiomas can be completely removed surgically. Some, due to their location, can only be partially removed. In these areas of the brain, complete removal would carry the risk of damaging a major artery or of destroying a part of the brain. However, even partial removal should provide some relief from symptoms. Because meningiomas may grow so slowly, it may be many years before further surgery may be necessary. Radiation and chemotherapy are usually not used to treat meningiomas.
If the patient with Meningioma has muscle weakness, coordination problems, or speech impairment, physical, occupational, or speech therapy may be helpful. Complete recovery from symptoms is possible after surgery.
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Books for patients are available from the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA) and include the following.
A Primer of Brain Tumors: A Patient’s Reference Manual. 7th Edition
Dictionary for Brain Tumor Patients.
Beers MH, Berkow R., eds. The Merck Manual, 17th ed. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck Research Laboratories; 1999:1446-47.
Berkow R., ed. The Merck Manual-Home Edition. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck Research Laboratories; 1997:379-80.
Adams, RD, et al., eds. Principles of Neurology. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, Companies; 1997:658-59.
McElveen JT Jr, Dorfman BE, Fukushima T. Petroclival tumors: a synthesis. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2001;34:1219-30.
De Jesus O, Toledo MM. Surgical management of meningioma en plaque of the sphenoid ridge. Surg Neurol. 2001. 55:265-69.
Akunwunmi J, Powell M. Understanding cerebral tumours. Practitioner. 2001;245:494, 498-502.
Liu JK, Forman S, Hershewe Gl, et al. Optic nerve sheath meningiomas: visual improvement after stereotactic radiotherapy. Neurosurgery. 2002;50:950-57.
Boljesikova E, Chorvath M. Radiation-induced meningiomas. Neoplasma. 2001;48:442-44.
Ashkan K, Rose P, Walter P. Cystic meningioma: challenges in the diagnosis. Br J Neurosurg. 2002;16:72-73.
Custer BS, Koepell TD, Mueller BA. The association between breast carcinoma and meningioma in women. Cancer. 2002;94:1626-35.
Ciric I, Rosenblatt S. Suprasellar meningiomas. Neurosurgery. 2001;49:1372-77.
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