Read about meningiomas and how they are treated.
What it is
Meningiomas start in the membranes (meninges) covering the brain and spinal cord.
About 25 out of 100 (25%) of brain tumours in adults are meningiomas. They are more common in older people and women. They are usually found in the cerebrum and cerebellum.
They can be low grade (slow growing) or high grade (fast growing). They are usually benign (grade 1) but some are atypical (grade 2 or 3). The symptoms of a meningioma vary depending on their position in the meninges.
Your doctor will examine you and you may have blood tests to check your general health. Other tests include:
- CT or MRI scan
Your treatment depends on the grade of the tumour and where it is in the brain.
Your doctor might recommend you have regular MRI scans if you have a slow growing meningioma . You might then have treatment if there are signs that your tumour is growing.
Your surgeon will try to remove as much of the tumour as possible. Complete removal is often possible. This is less likely if the tumour is growing around important nerves or blood vessels.
You might have radiotherapy:
- to reduce the risk of your tumour coming back, particularly if your meningioma is high grade
- if the tumour is in an area that is too difficult to operate (for example, the base of the skull)
- if you can't have an operation for medical reasons
You might have a type of radiotherapy called sterotactic radiotherapy if you have a small tumour.
Chemotherapy is not usually used to treat meningioma. You might have it if your tumour is high grade (fast growing) and has come back after surgery or radiotherapy.
Coping with meningioma
Coping with a diagnosis of cancer can be difficult, both practically and emotionally. It can be especially difficult if you have a rare cancer. Being well informed about your cancer and its treatment can make it easier to make decisions and cope with what happens.
You will have regular check ups once you finish your treatment. Your doctor will examine you and ask about your general health.
This is your chance to ask questions and to tell your doctor if anything is worrying you.
How often you have check ups depends on your individual situation.
Research and clinical trials
There may be fewer clinical trials for rare types of cancer than for more common types.
It is hard to organise and run trials for rare cancers. Getting enough patients is critical to the success of a trial. The results won't be strong enough to prove that one type of treatment is better than another if the trial is too small.
The International Rare Cancers Initiative (IRCI) aims to develop more research into new treatments for rare cancers. They are designing trials that involve several countries so that more people will be available to enter trials.