Tumor in the Brain: Meningioma

What is it?

Meningioma is a benign tumor in the brain. It is a relatively common brain tumor and grows slowly over several years, even decades sometimes.

What are tumors?

Tumors are abnormal and excessive proliferation of the cells in a tissue (group of cells) and this growth is unwanted and deleterious to the health. They are two types; benign and non-benign (cancerous or malignant)

Various types of brain tumors occur and for a detailed article click on the link.

Although benign tumors are non-cancerous in nature however they are not always innocuous. This is especially so when it comes to a tumor in the brain. Within the skull there is no much extra space, so any growth can further compromise the available space. This can result in a life threatening situation called as raised ICP (intracranial pressure).

A tumor in the brain can also compress important structures which are adjacent to it and cause lot of damage. For example, even if a completely innocuous tumor grows near the nerve of the vision (2nd cranial nerve, optic nerve) patient may go blind.

Not only that, such growths are difficult to be treated as well.

If you try to surgically operate then accidentally the neighbor important structures may get damaged. If you give radio therapy that also can injure the surrounding structures

So a benign brain tumor can be a huge concern many times.

Nevertheless if you have to take one, benign tumors are still better than cancers for the most.

More facts on meningioma

• The meningioma-tumor arises from the meninges or the brain coverings

• They are slowly growing tumors. Although Most of them are benign some turn out to be cancerous

• Women are affected more than men

• The incidence of this tumor increase as age advances

• There are some familial cases

• Neurofibromatosis is associated with increased risk of this tumor

Common locations of this tumor

• Convexity (over the surface of cerebral hemispheres)
• Interhemispheric (between two hemispheres)
• Suprasellar/paasellar
• Subfrontal (below the frontal lobe)
• Skull base
• Cranio spinal junction
• It can occur in the spine as well

How does a patient present?

The following are some of the common manifestations with this tumor;

• Headache
• Visual problems
• Motor weakness
• Sensory symptoms
• Seizures
• Vomiting etc.

Diagnosis

This tumor is identified by a CT or MRI of brain scan with and without contrast injection. The tumor enhances brightly after the contrast injection. A dural tail sign may be seen indicating the dural origin of the tumor and facilitating the diagnosis. The extra axial nature of the tumor is seen too (tumor originating outside the brain).

Treatment

If the meningoma is small and patient is asymptomatic or having only minimal symptoms then the tumor may be left like that with periodic CT or MRI of the brain to watch its growth.

If the tumor is of big size, rapidly growing, mass effect, patient is symptomatic etc then surgical resection is attempted. Aim is always to excise it fully but this is not always possible. If only partial resection can be done then radiotherapy is given too.

If patient has seizures then antiepileptic drugs like phenytoin are given.

Neurologists and neurosurgeons are frequently involved the care of these patients.



Meningioma to Neurology Articles

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