A meningioma is a tumor that grows within the three layers of tissue that encase and protect your central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). These tissues are known as the meninges. The tumors generally form in the area between your brain and the inside of your skull, placing pressure on the part of the brain near which they grow.
As a result, many experts classify it as a type of primary brain tumor, a tumor that originates in the central nervous system. It’s also the most common type of brain tumor, with more than 170,000 people diagnosed each year in the United States.
At Center for Neurosurgery Las Vegas, board-certified, multi-fellowship-trained neurosurgeon Dr. Scott Glickman has extensive experience with diagnosing and treating meningiomas. Because many patients aren’t familiar with the condition, he’s taking this opportunity to convey the warning signs, so you’ll know when to seek medical help.
The types and grades of meningiomas
Meningiomas originate from the arachnoid cells of the meninges, one of the three layers of tissue. Most of these tumors are benign, or non-cancerous, though there are types that are malignant and can spread to other areas of the body.
Meningiomas are most likely to be found near the top and outer curve of your brain or at the base of your skull. Spinal meningiomas are rare.
These tumors tend to grow slowly and inward into the tissue, and they’re usually not diagnosed until they’ve grown quite large since they don’t produce symptoms until they’re large enough to affect brain function. Even benign meningiomas can grow large enough to be life-threatening if they put pressure on the brain.
Meningiomas are graded into three types:
- Grade I or typical: benign, slow-growing tumors; represent approximately 80% of cases
- Grade II or atypical: non-cancerous but grows more quickly and may be more resistant to treatment; represent approximately 17% of cases
- Grade III or anaplastic: malignant tumor that grows and spreads quickly; represent approximately 1.7% of cases
As we’ve said, meningiomas don’t cause any symptoms by themselves, but symptoms can appear when they put pressure on your brain.
6 meningioma symptoms to take seriously
Six symptoms that may be attributed to a meningioma include:
- Vision changes
- Memory loss
- Loss of sense of smell
- Limb weakness or numbness
These symptoms can be attributed to a number of conditions, so it’s important to get a diagnosis if you have them. If Dr. Glickman believes you may have a meningioma, he orders an MRI or a CT scan to view your brain and image the tumor.
Specific symptoms depend on where the tumor puts pressure on the brain. For example:
- Olfactory groove meningiomas lead to a loss of smell (anosmia)
- Posterior frontal midline meningiomas lead to paralysis of the lower body (paraplegia)
- Sphenoid wing meningiomas cause one or both of your eyes to bulge out from their natural position (proptosis)
Other, common symptoms may include dizziness, nausea and vomiting, hearing loss, personality changes, overactive reflexes, and pain that starts at the tumor’s location and radiates outward.
Meningiomas are treated with surgery and/or radiation; chemotherapy is rarely indicated.
If you’re experiencing any of the telltale symptoms of a meningioma, you need to come into Center for Neurosurgery Las Vegas for an evaluation and an accurate diagnosis. To schedule, call our office at 702-929-8242, text us at 725-210-0057, or book your appointment online.