A meningioma is a type of brain tumor that’s said to be to second most common type of brain tumor occurring in humans today. A meningioma brain tumor primarily develops in the meninges, the thin layers of tissue surrounding the spinal cord and the brain. In most cases, these brain tumors can grow in size and spread, although it’s difficult to determine the tumors’ growth rate. Upon growth, these tumors put pressure on surrounding brain tissue.
Meningiomas can be classified into three grades, as set by the World Health Organization. Grade I meningiomas are classified as benign, Grade II meningiomas are identified as atypical, while Grade III meningiomas are considered anaplastic. Meningiomas are usually benign, but Grade III meningiomas are malignant. The average survival rate for Grade III meningiomas, without relapse, is currently at about three years.
There are some factors that contribute to the development of brain tumors in the meninges. Excessive exposure to ionizing radiation or x-rays in the scalp region is often considered to be a likely cause for a meningioma brain tumor. Sometimes, the cause for tumor development is genetic, involving a mutation of the neurofibromatosis gene. This type of brain tumor is also the only brain tumor that affects more women than men. The tumors are most often found in people 40 to 60 years old.
The symptoms of the development of meningioma brain tumors depend on the tumors’ size and location. Small tumors usually have no symptoms, and are often discovered incidentally. Location determines the symptoms of larger tumors. Meningiomas that develop on the front areas of the surface of the brain, for instance, can cause seizures or severe headaches. Meningiomas on the area behind the eyes cause numbness in the face and vision problems.
Patients with symptoms of meningioma brain tumor development are usually recommended for neurological evaluation prior to treatment. A surgical biopsy with a tissue evaluation is one of the most effective means of diagnosing meningiomas. Patients may also undergo MRI or CAT scans to pinpoint the location of the brain tumor and to determine if the tumor has spread to other parts of the body. CT scans are also helpful at discovering calcifications, which occur in many cases of benign meningiomas.
If the tumor is easily reached and is considered to be superficial on the brain’s dural surface, surgical removal with resection is the recommended treatment. Complete surgical removal with resection guarantees the lowest 10-year recurrence rate. Tumors that have spread to adjacent bone structures, however, are extremely difficult to completely remove. The recurrence rate for brain tumors in the meninges are affected by the severity of tumor and the extent of the surgical treatment.
Patients who have received surgical treatment for meningiomas are required to undergo follow-up scans indefinitely. Meningiomas can recur even decades after the patient undergoes surgical treatment. A meningioma brain tumor that recurs is usually treated through radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is also recommended if the tumor isn’t completely resectable. To improve the prognosis for these tumors, clinical trials are currently in progress.
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