Meningioma

Meningioma

Meningiomas are one of the most common types of brain tumours, accounting for approximately 36.4% of all primary brain tumours. These tumours arise from the meninges, the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. While many meningiomas are benign, they can still cause significant health issues due to their location and size. Understanding the signs, causes, diagnosis, and treatment options for meningiomas is crucial for effectively managing this condition.

Signs and Symptoms:

The symptoms of meningiomas can vary depending on their size, location, and growth rate. Some common signs and symptoms include:

  • Headaches: Persistent, often worsening headaches are a common symptom of meningiomas. These headaches may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

  • Seizures: Meningiomas can irritate the brain, leading to seizures. These seizures may vary in severity and frequency.

  • Changes in Vision: Meningiomas near the optic nerve can cause vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision, or loss of peripheral vision.

  • Weakness or Numbness: Tumors pressing on the brain or spinal cord can lead to weakness or numbness in the arms or legs.

  • Cognitive Changes: Some patients may experience changes in memory, concentration, or other cognitive function.

It’s important to note that not all meningiomas cause symptoms, especially if they are small and slow-growing. Some may be discovered incidentally during imaging tests for unrelated issues.

Causes and Risk Factors:

The exact cause of meningiomas is not fully understood, but several factors may increase the risk of developing these tumours:

  • Gender: Meningiomas are more common in women than in men, with some studies suggesting that hormonal factors may play a role.

  • Age: The risk of developing meningiomas increases with age, with most cases diagnosed in adults over the age of 40.

  • Genetics: Certain genetic conditions, such as neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2), increase the risk of developing meningiomas.

  • Radiation Exposure: Previous exposure to high doses of ionizing radiation, such as radiation therapy for other conditions, may increase the risk of developing meningiomas later in life.

While these factors may increase the risk, many people with one or more risk factors never develop meningiomas, highlighting the complex nature of this condition.

Diagnosis:

Diagnosing a meningioma typically involves a combination of imaging tests and neurological evaluations. These may include:

  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): MRI scans are the most commonly used imaging test for diagnosing meningiomas. They provide detailed images of the brain and can help determine the tumour’s size, location, and characteristics.

  • CT (Computed Tomography) Scan: CT scans may provide additional information about the tumour’s size and location, mainly if MRI is not available or contraindicated.

  • Neurological Examination: A neurological examination may be performed to assess cognitive function, coordination, reflexes, and other neurological signs that may indicate the presence of a meningioma.

Once a meningioma is suspected based on imaging and clinical findings, a biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis and determine the tumour’s grade.

Preventive Measures and Treatment Plans:

While there are no known ways to prevent meningiomas, early detection and treatment can improve patient outcomes and quality of life. Treatment options for meningiomas depend on several factors, including the tumour’s size, location, grade, and the patient’s overall health.

  • Watchful Waiting: Small, asymptomatic meningiomas may be monitored regularly with imaging tests to monitor their growth and progression.

  • Surgery: Surgical removal of the meningioma is often the primary treatment for symptomatic or growing tumours. The goal of surgery is to remove as much of the cancer as possible while preserving neurological function.

  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy may be recommended for meningiomas that cannot be completely removed with surgery, as well as for tumours that recur after surgery.

  • Medication: In some cases, corticosteroids or anti-seizure drugs may be prescribed to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

  • Clinical Trials: Patients with meningiomas may be eligible to participate in clinical trials investigating new treatments or therapeutic approaches.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, meningiomas are a common type of brain tumour that can cause various symptoms and health issues. While the exact cause is unknown, several risk factors have been identified, and early detection and treatment are crucial for optimal outcomes. By raising awareness of the signs, causes, diagnosis, and treatment options for meningiomas, healthcare providers and patients can work together to manage this condition and improve quality of life effectively.

References:

  1. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/meningioma#:~:text=Meningioma%20is%20the%20most%20common,brain%20just%20under%20the%20skull.
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/meningioma/symptoms-causes/syc-20355643
  3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17858-meningioma
  4. https://www.cancer.gov/rare-brain-spine-tumor/tumors/meningioma
  5. https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Meningiomas
  6. https://www.webmd.com/cancer/brain-cancer/meningioma-causes-symptoms-treatment