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What is a meningioma?

A meningioma is a tumor that starts in the meninges of the brain and spinal cord. The meninges are the tissues that cover the brain and spinal cord. They prevent germs and other substances from entering the brain and spinal cord. Most meningiomas are slow-growing and benign (not cancer).

What increases my risk for a meningioma?

  • A history of breast cancer, or other cancers
  • A family history of meningiomas, cancer, or neurofibromatosis type 2
  • Increased levels of female sex hormones, such as estrogen
  • A skull fracture
  • Radiation treatment or exposure

What are the signs and symptoms of a meningioma?

Your signs and symptoms depend on the size and location of the tumor. You may have no symptoms, or you may have any of the following:

  • Headaches, especially right after you wake up
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness or inability to move a limb
  • Personality or behavior changes
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty speaking or changes in vision
  • Seizures

How is a meningioma diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your health history, and the health history of family members. An x-ray, ultrasound, CT, or MRI will show the location of the tumor. You may be given contrast dye to help the tumor show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.

How is a meningioma treated?

Treatment depends on the location and size of the tumor, and your signs and symptoms. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you have frequent tests and regular follow-up visits to watch for changes. You may also need any of the following:

  • Surgery may be done to remove the tumor.
  • Endovascular embolization is a procedure to reduce or stop blood flow to the meningioma and decrease its size. Your healthcare provider will insert a catheter into a blood vessel that goes to your brain. When the artery that is supplying the meningioma is reached, a coil or glue is injected to block blood flow to the tumor.
  • Hormone therapy may help to decrease the size of tumors that need estrogen for growth.
  • Radiation therapy uses high energy x-ray beams to kill tumor cells and decrease the size of the tumor.
  • Chemotherapy is used to kill tumor cells.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have a fever.
  • You vomit repeatedly, and cannot keep any food or liquids down.
  • You have a severe headache, or you feel dizzy.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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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