- Meningiomas are tumors that develop from the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.
- Most meningiomas are benign and grow slowly.
- Meningiomas cause symptoms by compressing nearby nerves, blood vessels, or brain tissue.
- Meningiomas are typically diagnosed by an imaging study (MRI or CT).
- Surgery, with or without subsequent radiation therapy, is the preferred treatment.
Meningiomas are the most common type of brain tumor, are typically benign, and may remain for years before they're identified by a doctor. While they often do not cause problems, some meningiomas do require treatment.
At Stanford Brain Tumor Center, our team of doctors and specialists create an individualized treatment plan, which may include active surveillance, minimally invasive surgery, radiation therapy, or a combination of surgery and radiation therapy.
What is meningioma?
A meningioma is a tumor that develops within the meninges. Meninges are the soft coverings or membranes that wrap around the brain and spinal cord. They serve as protection to the brain and spinal cord and support for the blood vessels, nerves, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that travel through them.
Ninety percent of meningiomas occur in the meninges surrounding the outside of brain, but they can also develop around the spinal cord, around the optic nerve (a nerve that travels from the eye to the brain), or in the ventricles (CSF-filled cavities in the brain).
Most people will only have a single tumor, but sometimes multiple tumors are found in the head and around the spinal cord.
What are the symptoms of meningioma?
Some people with meningioma do not experience any symptoms. Depending on its location, a tumor may grow quite large before it causes symptoms.
What are the risk factors for meningioma?
Radiation and certain genetic syndromes are risk factors for meningioma, but they only account for a small percentage of total diagnoses. Other risk factors are being researched but are still not well understood.
What are the treatment options for meningioma?
Because meningiomas are generally benign tumors, the goal of treatment is to allow for patients to maintain their quality of life in addition to resection or radiation in situations where the tumors need to be treated. Physicians consider the patient’s symptoms, age, and overall health together with the tumor location, size, and appearance on imaging when recommending the preferred treatment option.
Innovative Treatments and Clinical Trials
Surgical resection, with or without adjuvant radiation, can be curative for many meningiomas. However, there are no standard effective medical treatments for high grade meningiomas, which tend to recur. Current research is actively looking at some new ways to treat cancer, including:
- Immunotherapy: uses the body’s own immune system to target and eliminate cancer cells
- Targeted therapy: uses drugs to interfere with specific genes and proteins known to help cancer cells survive and grow
- Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy: a type of targeted therapy that delivers high doses of radiation directly to the tumor cells
- Patients with high grade meningioma may be eligible to participate in clinical trials to access new treatments under investigation.
Patients may participate in clinical trials to access new treatments under investigation. Please check with your physician to see if you are eligible for a clinical trial.
Meningioma Support Group
Join us to learn about the latest treatment options, network with other meningioma patients, and find encouragement and support. Family members, caregivers, friends and interested persons are encouraged to attend. No registration necessary.