Tumors can grow anywhere in the body, including the brain and spinal cord. Meningioma is a type of slow-growing tumor that can occur on a patient’s spine or brain and usually is benign. These tumors often can be treated with radiation therapy or surgery. Depending on the location and size of the tumor the neurosurgeons at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics in Northern New Jersey will determine the safest type of treatment for a brain tumor.
What Is Meningioma?
Meningiomas are a class of tumors that originate in the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and brain, called the meninges. It is the most common type of tumor that forms in the head: according to Cleveland Clinic, over 170,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with meningioma annually. There are more than a dozen subtypes of meningioma, which are classified into three grades based on severity:
- Grade I: benign meningioma
- Grade II: atypical meningioma
- Grade III: malignant or anaplastic meningioma
Who Is at Risk?
While it is not clear what causes meningioma, there are some identified risk factors. These include:
- Gender: Meningiomas are more common in women than in men.
- Age: Patients in their 70s and 80s have the highest rates of meningioma.
- Ethnic background: The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports that black people have higher incidence rates of meningioma than other ethnic groups in the U.S.
- Past medical treatment: Patients who have received radiation therapy for other conditions may be more likely to develop meningiomas of the spine or brain.
- Hormones: There may be a link between female hormones, gene production, and meningioma.
- Genetic conditions: An inherited nervous system disorder called Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) may increase a patient’s risk of developing meningioma.
Symptoms of Meningioma
Meningioma of the brain or spine often grows very slowly over many years, so symptoms may not appear right away. Unfortunately, sometimes meningioma symptoms are overlooked as normal side effects of the aging process. Signs of a meningioma can range from mild to severe and may include:
- Hearing loss or ringing in the ears
- Headaches, especially early in the morning
- Muscle spasms or twitching
- Weakness in the arms or legs
- Double or blurry vision
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Loss of sense of smell
- Difficulty forming words
- Loss of bladder function
- Memory loss
These symptoms can vary based on the size and location of a patient’s tumor. For example, a patient with meningioma of the spine may experience back pain, while a patient with meningioma of the brain may experience headaches but no symptoms in the back or limbs.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
Different types of tumors can present with the same symptoms, so accurate diagnosis is key. In addition to conducting a neurological exam, most doctors will use imaging tests to determine a meningioma diagnosis, such as computerized tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Some patients also may need a biopsy to rule out other conditions or types of tumors.
The best course of treatment for a patient will depend on the tumor’s grade and where it is located in the brain or spine. If a meningioma is small, growing very slowly, and causes few or no symptoms, a patient may not require treatment at all. Instead, their doctor may simply recommend regular imaging scans to continue observing the tumor.
The most common treatment option for meningiomas is surgery. Many meningiomas can be removed with minimally invasive surgical procedures that have fewer side effects and shorter hospital stays than open or traditional surgery. Less common malignant (cancerous) meningiomas often can be treated with a course of radiation before surgery to shrink the tumor and prevent further growth. In rare cases, patients with meningioma also may be treated with chemotherapy.
Patient Success Stories
CNSO has helped countless patients with meningioma and other types of cancers, guiding them along the way to the best possible outcome. Once a meningioma is diagnosed, the patient needs to continue to have annual imaging to confirm it has not continued to grow. If the meningioma is removed, standard of care also dictates that annual imaging should be done to confirm the meningioma has not returned. After a few years, the monitoring of the return of a meningioma can occur less frequently.
Find Award-Winning Treatment at CNSO
Patients with brain tumor symptoms will find compassionate, expert care at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics (CNSO). In addition to meningiomas, the board-certified surgeons at CNSO treat most types of spinal and brain tumors, including:
- Pituitary tumors
- Ependymoma and ependymoblastoma
- Oligodendroglioma and oligodendroblastoma
Find Compassionate, Expert Care at CNSO
CNSO is based in Northern NJ and serves patients in the surrounding areas, including Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, and Passaic counties. The CNSO neurosurgeons operate at only the top neurological hospitals which include Valley Hospital and Morristown Hospital. To learn more about brain tumor treatment options or request an appointment, contact us today.