Meningiomas are usually benign (noncancerous) brain tumours. Individuals between the ages of 40 and 60 are diagnosed with benign brain tumours the most frequently, but meningiomas can develop in people of all ages, including children. The Mayo Clinic maintains that a meningioma is more likely to occur in a woman than in a man. The impact these brain tumours have on an individual varies greatly. One person may exhibit no symptoms while another person may suffer severe symptoms.
Symptoms of meningiomas vary depending on where the brain tumour is located. For example, the sufferer may experience changes in vision if the meningioma is located on or near the optical nerve. She may notice that her headaches differ from what she considers to be normal, become more severe over time, happen more often and last longer than usual. She may also suffer from some hearing loss. She may experience memory loss, difficulty concentrating or undergo changes in her personality. Weaknesses in the limbs and seizures are also reported symptoms of brain tumours. The prognosis for surviving meningiomas is favourable.
Individuals who have received radiation treatments to the head have a higher risk of developing meningiomas than individuals who have never received similar treatments. A previous diagnosis of breast cancer increases the risk of developing a meningioma. Individuals diagnosed with inherited nervous system disorders and neurofibromatosis type 2 disorders have a higher risk of developing meningiomas. Individuals with a history of cancer may have a poor prognosis due to the increased risk of the brain tumour recurrence after treatment.
Once a doctor has taken a thorough medical history and performed a complete physical examination, he may order one of several diagnostic tests. The individual's medical history and risk assessment results determine which diagnostic tests he receives. Computerised tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and X-rays are all common measures for diagnosing brain tumours. Biopsies determine whether the brain tumour is benign or malignant. If the tumour is malignant, the individual has cancer and the prognosis becomes very poor. The prognosis for a benign meningioma is favourable.
Treatment approaches vary depending on the size and location of the meningioma. Brain tumours do not always require immediate treatment. Monitoring the benign brain tumour will determine if it shows signs of growth or if the individual begins to experience debilitating symptoms due to the brain tumour. The prognosis is very promising for individuals who have meningiomas that do not require immediate treatment. Surgical removal of meningiomas is often successful. According to the Mayo Clinic, radiation therapy or radiotherapy are successful in treating meningiomas when surgery is not a viable option (i.e. when the location of the tumour results in a poor prognosis).
There are three types, or grades, of meningiomas. Ninety per cent of meningiomas are classified as grade I, meaning they are benign and grow slowly. Only seven per cent of grade I brain tumours recur within 10 years after removal. The prognosis for individuals with grade I meningiomas is very favourable. Five to seven per cent of meningiomas are a grade II tumour. These brain tumours grow a little faster and may recur within five years after removal. While the prognosis for grade II meningiomas is not as favourable as grade I tumours, it is fair. Three to five per cent of tumours are grade III. These brain tumours grow rapidly and often recur within two years after removal. Individuals with grade III tumours have a poor prognosis due to the high rates of tumour recurrence.
The size and location of the meningioma, along with the individual's overall health, factor into her prognosis. For example, if the brain tumour is located on the optic nerve, she may experience permanent loss of vision. If she has another debilitating health condition, the risk of surgery may far outweigh the benefits. Overall, the prognosis for individuals with meningiomas is very good. Eighty per cent of these benign brain tumours are successfully removed with surgery. Seventy-five per cent of these individuals do not experience a recurrence of the brain tumour.