Advanced Breast Cancer: Learn about treatment options.

Meningiomas

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

  • Meningiomas are tumors in the meninges of the brain and spinal cord. Meninges are linings that cover the brain and spinal cord. Meningiomas are caused by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. Most meningiomas are benign (noncancerous), but very rarely may be malignant (cancerous). They are most commonly seen in women, and in adults between 40 and 60 years of age. No one knows for sure what causes meningiomas. You have a higher risk for meningiomas if you have had a skull fracture or radiation to the head. A family or personal medical history of tumors or cancers may also increase your risk. Hormones, such as estrogen, may also increase your risk of a meningioma.

  • Signs and symptoms include headaches, seizures (convulsions), and trouble talking or seeing. You may also have nausea (upset stomach), vomiting (throwing up), and problems moving your limbs, such as your leg. Tests to diagnose meningiomas include a computerized tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The main treatment for meningiomas is surgery. You may also have radiotherapy, hormonal therapy, and chemotherapy. Diagnosing and treating meningiomas as soon as possible may relieve your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

Treatment for meningiomas carries certain risks. You could get an infection or bleed too much if the tumor is removed by surgery. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and diarrhea. Sometimes even with treatment, your meningioma may spread or return. A malignant meningioma may spread to other parts of the body. The earlier a meningioma is found and treated, the better your chances are of being cured. Ask your caregiver if you are worried or have questions about your disease, care, or treatment.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Blood transfusion:

You may need a blood transfusion for certain medical conditions. You may also need a transfusion if you lose a large amount of blood during surgery. You may ask a family member or friend with the same blood type to donate blood for you. This is called directed blood donation. Many people are worried about getting AIDS, hepatitis, or West Nile Virus from a blood transfusion. The risk of this happening is rare. Blood banks test all donated blood for AIDS, hepatitis, and West Nile Virus. If you refuse a blood transfusion, your condition may get worse, and you may die.

Medicines:

You may be given the following medicines:

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.

  • Anticonvulsant medicine: This medicine is given to control seizures. Take this medicine exactly as directed.

  • Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.

  • Blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Blood thinners may be given before, during, and after a surgery or procedure. Blood thinners make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.

  • Pain medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.

    • Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.

    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.

Tests:

You may be given any of the following:

  • Angiography: This test looks for problems with the arteries (blood vessels) supplying the meningioma. Before the x-ray, dye is put into a thin tube through a small cut in your groin. The groin is the area where your abdomen (stomach) meets your upper leg. The dye helps the arteries show up better on the x-ray pictures. People who are allergic to iodine or shellfish (lobster, crab, or shrimp) may also be allergic to this dye. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to shellfish, dyes, or any medicines.

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray and computer are used to take pictures of your skull and brain. You may be given dye, also called contrast, before the test. Tell the caregiver if you are allergic to dye, iodine, or seafood.

  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your brain. It will also take pictures of the blood vessels and structures in your head. You may be given dye, also called contrast, before the test. Tell caregivers if you are allergic to dye, iodine, or seafood. Remove all jewelry, and tell caregivers if you have any metal in or on your body. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell caregivers if you cannot lie still or are anxious or afraid of closed spaces.

  • Neurologic exam: This is also called neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status. A neurologic exam can show caregivers how well your brain works after an injury or illness. Caregivers will check how your pupils (black dots in the center of each eye) react to light. They may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.

  • X-rays: Plain x-rays of the head may show conditions or problems that will help your caregiver diagnose meningiomas.

Treatment options:

You may have any of the following:

  • Chemotherapy:

    • This medicine, often called chemo, is used to treat cancer. It works by killing tumor cells. Chemotherapy may also be used to shrink lymph nodes that have cancer in them. Once the tumor is smaller, you may need surgery to cut out the rest of the cancer.

    • Many different chemotherapy medicines are used to treat cancer. You may need blood tests often. These blood tests show how your body is doing and how much chemotherapy is needed. Chemotherapy can have many side effects. Caregivers will watch you closely and will work with you to decrease side effects. Chemotherapy can cure some cancers. Even if the chemotherapy does not cure your cancer, it may help you feel better or live longer.

  • Endovascular embolization: Endovascular embolization is a procedure that may be done before surgery. During an angiogram, a special tube is inserted into your groin in a blood vessel that goes to your brain. When the artery that is supplying the meningioma is reached, a coil or glue is released. This creates an obstruction (blockage) that reduces or stops blood flow to the meningioma. This will help to decrease the size of the tumor and may help decrease blood loss during surgery.

  • Hormonal therapy: You may be given a hormone, called progesterone, for tumors that are not responding to surgery or radiation. These medicines may help shrink meningiomas that need estrogen for growth.

  • Radiotherapy: This is a treatment using x-rays or gamma rays. Radiation kills tumors and keeps the cancer from spreading. It also keeps tumor cells from dividing into new cells and growing, which is one way cancer spreads. Radiation may help decrease pain, control bleeding, and shrink the tumor.

  • Surgery: Surgical treatment for meningiomas may depend on the person's age, condition, and presence of other conditions, such as heart disease. The size, amount, and location of the tumors is also important. Your caregiver may open your skull to remove the tumor. He may also use a CT scan or MRI pictures to do frameless stereotaxy. Stereotaxy uses three-dimensional (3-D) pictures to help your caregiver know the exact location of the tumor. It also helps your caregiver guide special tools used during surgery. Ask your caregiver for more information about surgery for meningiomas.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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