This information describes meningioma, including symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

About Meningioma

Meningioma is a type of brain tumor that develops in the meninges. The meninges are the tissues that surround your brain and spinal cord.

Meningiomas usually start within the skull but can also start in the spine. Most people with a meningioma will have a tumor at only one site, but it is possible to have several tumors growing at the same time in different parts of the brain and spinal cord.

About 90% of meningiomas are benign (non-cancerous). Although they are not cancer, their location can cause serious problems as they grow and affect the brain.

If someone has had radiation to their brain or spinal cord, they have a greater risk of developing a meningioma. 

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Symptoms

Most meningiomas grow slowly and don’t cause any symptoms.

If you do have symptoms, they are usually based on where the meningioma is located. These symptoms can include:

  • Headaches
  • Changes in vision, hearing, or speaking
  • Leg or arm numbness or weakness
  • Balance or coordination problems
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of smell
  • Seizures
  • Changes in personality

These symptoms can also be due to other causes. Call your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms or if you have a change in these symptoms.

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Diagnosis

Most meningiomas are found on tests such as computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of your head.

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Treatment

Most meningiomas may not need treatment if they are slow growing and not causing any symptoms. You may have brain MRIs every year to see if it is growing. If the meningioma is causing symptoms or growing quickly, you may need surgery to remove it.

Some meningiomas can’t be removed because they are near parts of your brain that control vital functions. In that case, you may have radiation therapy to stop them from growing. You may also have radiation therapy if the surgery did not remove the entire tumor.  

There are clinical trials that study different treatments for meningiomas. For more information about trials at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK), ask your doctor or go to www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/clinical-trials/search.

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