by Kimberly Allen, RN
Meningiomas are a diverse group of tumors that form in the membranes that cover the central nervous system. The American Brain Tumor Association states that meningiomas are the most common primary brain tumor accounting for at least one third of all primary brain tumors. As many as 90% of meningiomas are non-cancerous. Meningiomas can occur at anytime in anyone, however, they are more common in women past menopause, Some experts also believe that radiation treatments to the central nervous system also increases the risk of developing meningiomas.
Though the exact cause of meningiomas remains unclear because the majority develop randomly without any apparent cause while others have hereditary implications. There are 3 layers of meninges that surround and protect our central nervous system. the first and superficial layer is called dura mater, the second layer is the arachnoid mater and the third layer which is the deepest layer is the pia mater. Most menigiomas form in the arachnoid mater. The arachnoid mater is secured to the dura mater, however, is separate from the pia mater. While all three layers surround the brain and spinal cord only the pia mater covers down into the folds of the brain. It is the space between the arachnoid mater and the pia mater that contains the cerebral spinal fluid. The tiny hair like projections produced by the arachnoid mater in the area of the venous sinuses are what allow the cerebral spinal fluid to leave the subarachnoid space and enter the blood stream. Because of this there are more arachnoid cells in this area. This is also the area where the highest incidence of meningiomas occurs.
There are numerous types of meningiomas which are determined by their location. The most common being Parasagittal/falcine which accounts for 25% of meningiomas. This type is located in the area of the venous sinuses. The second most common accounts for 20% of meningiomas and is called convexity. These are meningiomas that form on the surface of the brain just under the skull. There are numerous other types of meningiomas some more common than others.
The majority of meningiomas are slow growing this means they tend to become fairly large before you notice symptoms. Frequently the symptoms occur so gradually it’s difficult to associate them especially since they can range from barely noticeable to severe. The symptoms you would experience would depend on the location of the meningioma. Some people experience headaches and blurred vision as well as seizures while others may extremities. Some people experience speech problems and hearing loss as well as memory loss.
Because menigiomas grow so slowly many don’t require treatment, however some grow faster than others and depending on how long you’ve had a meningioma they can get quite large. Depending on the location of the meningioma as it grows the pressure that it puts on the brain or in rare case the spinal cord can cause serious complications requiring immediate medical attention. Should you suddenly experience seizures or a sudden loss of vision you should seek medical attention immediately. Meningiomas are rarely diagnosed before the development of moderate to severe symptoms. It’s important that if you notice symptoms that persist and worsen as time goes by like headaches to contact your doctor for evaluation. The majority of meningiomas require a wait and see approach with periodic brain scans to monitor their growth. However, if your meningioma is symptomatic or appears to be growing your doctor may recommend surgery. Depending on the location of the meningioma the doctor may not be able to remove all the tumor. If the doctor is unable to remove the entire meningioma or if the meningioma was malignant you may require radiation treatments after surgery. There are a variety of surgical procedures and treatments available to your doctor today, be sure to research them and discuss them thoroughly with your doctor.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.