What is a meningioma?
Meningioma is a slow-growing and usually non-cancerous tumor that originates in the meninges, the membrane layer covering the brain and spinal cord. As they grow, meningiomas can compress adjacent brain tissue and affect the cranial nerves and blood vessels. While most meningiomas are not cancerous, a small percentage are fast-growing malignant tumors that can cause neurological problems and swelling in the brain. Meningiomas can occur at any age, but are more common in adults than children. When they do affect children they occur most often in the sixth and seventh years of life and are slightly more common in boys than in girls.
Meningioma | Symptoms & Causes
What are the symptoms of meningioma
Many patients with meningiomas have no symptoms and require no treatment other than periodic observation. If symptoms do arise, they typically include:
- hemiparesis (weakness on one side of the body)
- visual disturbances
- difficulty finding words
Meningioma symptoms may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.
Meningioma | Diagnosis & Treatments
How is meningioma diagnosed?
When a meningioma is suspected, diagnostic imaging can be used for diagnosis. This may include:
- computerized tomography scan (CT or CAT scan)
- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS)
After all tests are completed, doctors will be able to outline the best treatment options.
What are the treatment options for meningiomas?
It is very rare for a pediatric patient to die of meningioma — the five-year survival rate is over 95 percent. Specific meningioma treatments may include neurosurgery or radiation therapy.
Surgery to completely remove the tumor delivers the best outcomes for patients with meningioma. In certain cases, partial removal is warranted if complete removal will affect a patient’s neurological function, such as if the tumor affects the medial sphenoid wing, orbital, tentorial, clival, and posterior parasagittal tumors.
In cases in which the tumor cannot be completely removed, radiation therapy can reduce the rate of recurrence. Stereotactic radiotherapy is useful to minimize the dose to surrounding structures and is particularly useful to treat meningiomas next to the optic nerves or brainstem.
How is recurrent meningioma treated?
Depending upon the site of the recurrence, surgery usually will be performed again. If this is not possible, or if the tumor cannot be removed, radiotherapy may be considered.
How we care for meningioma
Children with meningioma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through the Brain Tumor Center, one of the largest and most experienced pediatric brain tumor treatment programs in the world. Our brain tumor specialists have extensive expertise in treating all types of brain tumors, including meningioma. Our patients receive care from neuro-oncologists, neurosurgeons, neurologists, and pediatric subspecialists.