What are Meningiomas?
Meningiomas develop in the brain or spinal cord from the surrounding membranes called meninges. These membranes serve as a protective barrier between the brain and skull, as well as between the spine and spinal cord.
Most meningiomas are benign, but they can cause significant health problems if they grow large enough to put pressure on the brain or spine. Grade 1 meningiomas are the most common, with tumor cells that grow slowly. Grade 2 atypical meningiomas are mid-grade tumors, which have a higher chance of recurrence after they are removed. They include choroid and clear-cell meningioma. Grade 3 anaplastic meningiomas are fast-growing malignant tumors. They include papillary and rhabdoid meningiomas.
Causes of Meningioma
The cause of meningioma is not known, although research has shown that meningiomas are more common in women. However, higher-grade tumors (Grades 3 and 4) occur more often in men. Exposure to radiation, especially in childhood, is the only known environmental risk factor for developing meningioma. People with neurofibromatosis type 2 are at higher risk for developing meningioma.
Early Signs of Meningiomas and Diagnosis
Symptoms of meningioma appear depending on the location of the tumor. Some symptoms, such as headaches or a change in cognition, may appear slowly and worsen over time. Other signs, such as a seizure or loss of motor function, may appear suddenly. As a meningioma begins to grow in an area of the brain or spinal cord, pressure increases on the tissue. Symptoms may include headaches, nausea and/or vomiting, seizures, double vision, drowsiness or lethargy, mood or personality changes, loss of motor function, weakness or numbness, speech difficulty, and/or memory loss.
Diagnosis and staging of meningioma may involve neurological exams of the eyes, vision, muscle strength, and reflexes; MRI and CT scans; position emission tomography; and biopsy of the tumor to remove a sample of tissue for pathological testing.
The standard treatment for brain tumors is surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and/or targeted therapies. Your treatment team will recommend the best treatment for meningioma depending on the location of the tumor, whether it has spread, its grade, and your general health and fitness. At UTHealth Neurosciences you can expect the latest advancements in diagnosis and treatment, as well as access to international multicenter clinical trials.
Some tumors may require watchful waiting as neurologists and neurosurgeons track changes, while higher-grade tumors will require surgery and/or radiation and chemotherapy, high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant, targeted therapy that attacks cancer cells without harming normal cells, immunotherapy, or new types of treatments being tested in clinical trials.
Neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, and radiation oncologists discuss cases in depth weekly at a tumor board review. Working as a team ensures that each patient benefits from the full spectrum of expertise and the best treatment options available, including new drug therapies and immunotherapies being tested in clinical trials.
What You Can Expect at UTHealth Neurosciences
At UTHealth Neurosciences, neurologists, neurosurgeons, interventional pain management specialists, neuro-oncologists, radiation oncologists, and neuropathologists work together to determine the care each patient needs, discussing treatment options as a group. This approach saves our patients time and money and allows our specialists to share each other’s insights, leading to better treatment decision-making and outcomes.
We first investigate options for nonsurgical treatment, including medical management, pain management, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and watchful waiting. When surgery is needed, our neurosurgeons routinely employ innovative minimally invasive techniques. Throughout the treatment process, our team works closely with the doctor who referred you to ensure a smooth transition back to your regular care plan. While you are with us, you can expect expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.
At UTHealth Neurosciences, we offer patients access to specialized neurological care at clinics across the greater Houston area. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-8000, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.