It’s always scary to hear the word “tumor” come out of your doctor’s mouth as he explains that you have one. Learning that you have some sort of tumor in your brain – your body’s central command center – can do more than make you lose sleep.

But there is a type of brain ailment that doesn’t seem to faze doctors as much: benign meningioma. What is it and what makes it less concerning? Meningiomas form from the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, called the meninges. Many times, they grow inwardly towards the brain or spinal cord and occasionally, outwardly.

Because they grow slowly and tend not to spread, they are considered benign. These tumors may become calcified or contain something like a cyst or blood vessels.

Meningiomas account for 20 to 30% of brain tumor diagnoses, with 80 to 90% of them being benign. They are considered the most common type of brain tumor and are found in more women than men. Typically, these tumors affect adults age 40 – 70, but in extremely rare cases can affect children too.

Symptoms of a benign meningioma can be mild or pronounced, but listed below are some of the most common:

  1. Vision Problems

    Impaired vision or loss of vision can result depending on where the tumor is located. Your visual field may lessen, things may become blurry, or you could experience double vision. The tumor can grow close to the optic region, eye sockets, or cause compression in any part of the brain. Vision decline may be sudden or get worse with time.

  2. Seizures

    Seizures are more likely to occur when the meningioma has grown substantially large, is positioned between both hemispheres of the brain, or is located on the brain and has begun to infiltrate the scalp and skull.

  3. Headache

    If you are experiencing headaches for months or weeks at a time, see a physician. Recurring head pain or headaches that worsen over time could be a sign of a meningioma.

  4. Speech Issues

    Like a stroke, meningioma may cause slurred speech. More common is being unable to understand or speak words, usually when the tumor affects the left side of the brain.

  5. Weakness in Limbs

    Tumors that are compressing certain parts of the brain or spinal cord can cause numbness or weakness in the limbs. Patients may lose feeling in the arm and leg muscles, which can occur on one side of the body or both.

Additional symptoms may include paralysis, trouble swallowing, loss of coordination, or memory loss. Doctors may use biopsies, CT scans, or MRIs to determine whether someone has a meningioma, and depending on the severity, treatment may follow.

If treatment is required for a benign meningioma, surgery is the recommended course of action and in more difficult cases, radiation. Since the majority of meningioma cases are benign, survival rates are high, but if you do have any of these symptoms, see a doctor!

Have you ever heard of a benign meningioma? Do you know someone who’s been diagnosed with one? Which symptoms did he/she have?


Brigham Health Pub


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