A meningioma is the most prevalent type of brain tumor that grows from the meninges, membranes around the brain and the spinal cord. This disease can be categorized as a brain tumor as it may press on the nearby area of the brain, nerves or vessels.
Meningiomas can affect their surrounding brain tissue, nerves or vessels, and lead to serious disability. However, in most cases it takes years for meningiomas to grow without any significant symptoms and signs. This means immediate treatment might not be required and the disease can be monitored over time.
In most cases, in the initial stage, a meningioma can have very subtle signs and symptoms before gradually worsening over time. This also depends on where in the brain or (rarely) spine, the disease is located. The signs and symptoms may include:
- Vision changes, including double or blurred vision
- Hearing loss or tinnitus
- Loss of memory
- Loss of smell
- Arm or leg weakness
- Language problems
Although in most cases a meningioma’s signs and symptoms progress in a slow manner, it might require immediate treatment. If the signs and symptoms such as headaches remain persistent and get worse over time, make an appointment with the doctor.
Contact emergency services if:
- Seizures that suddenly occur
- Sudden vision or memory changes
As the signs or symptoms of meningiomas are not distinct, they are often found from imaging scans done for reasons unrelated to the tumor, such as a head injury or headaches.
The cause of meningioma is unclear. However, cellular alterations in the meninges cause them to uncontrollably multiply, which leads to a meningioma tumor. Contributing factors that are believed to cause the disease include one’s genes, hormones (higher risk for women), or prior exposure to radiation (which is rare) and are still unknown.
Risk factors for a meningioma include:
- Radiation treatment. Radiation therapy to the head can increase the risk of a meningioma.
- Female hormones. Women are at a higher risk of developing meningiomas due to certain female hormones. Studies show the role of hormones, as well as birth control and hormone replacement therapy, may accelerate meningioma growth.
- Inherited nervous system disorder. The neurofibromatosis 2 disorder increases the risk of meningioma and other brain tumors.
- Obesity. Obesity, which is measured by the high body mass index (BMI), primarily increases the risk of many types of cancers including meningiomas, as observed in several studies. However, no clear relationship between obesity and meningiomas is found yet.