Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Meningioma Treatment?
Our hospital is renowned for offering quality healthcare in a warm and compassionate environment to the community of Los Angeles. The medical specialists at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital have the necessary expertise and experience to treat meningioma with minimal risks of complications. We will first perform all the diagnostic tests and exams you need to receive a correct and accurate diagnosis and subsequently design the most effective treatment approach for your particular condition.
As the most common benign intracranial tumor, meningioma occurs in approximately 34,000 people in the United States every year. This tumor grows in the meninges, which are the layers of tissue that cover the brain and the spinal cord. Nevertheless, meningioma is not classified as a brain tumor, as it does not arise from this organ. However, some medical sources deem it a brain tumor.
Because it is not cancerous, meningioma does not spread to adjacent parts of the body but can cause neurological problems, since it may compress the brain and the spinal cord. Therefore, it can lead to the patient experiencing serious symptoms that require treatment. It is worthy of note that meningioma rarely occurs in children, as it is most common in adults. Up to 30% of brain tumors are meningiomas.
The treatment you will receive for meningioma will highly depend on the location of the tumor, the size of it, your general health, your age, and your preferences. However, you should know that not all meningiomas require treatment. When they do require treatment, the patient will receive medication or radiotherapy or they will have to undergo surgery to have their tumor removed. The purpose of radiotherapy is to reduce the size of the tumor and can either be used alone or in combination with surgery. When both treatment approaches are used, the patient will receive radiotherapy after the surgery to destroy what is left of the tumor.
In general, undergoing surgery for meningioma is a relatively low-risk process, since the tumor is not malignant and can be removed entirely in most cases. As for medication, recent medical studies found that hydroxyurea, a drug used to slow or stop the growth of cancerous tumors, is very effective in keeping malignant meningiomas under control by reducing their size. Furthermore, the patient may be prescribed medications that prevent the hormone progesterone from attaching to meningioma cells to stop the further growth of their tumor. The following are other drugs that may prove effective in keeping the growth of meningiomas under control:
- interferon: in the rare cases that meningiomas are malignant, the patient will be given this medication, which is composed of naturally occurring proteins that promote the fighting of the immune system against cancerous tumor
- bevacizumab: as another medication used to treat malignant meningiomas, bevacizumab is a monoclonal antibody drug composed of immune system proteins that destroy malignant cells and that also decreases blood flow to meningiomas
Nonetheless, since meningiomas are rarely malignant, people will generally be recommended active surveillance if they do not experience distressful symptoms, which means that they will have to go to regular appointments with their doctor to see whether their tumor has increased in size. If their meningioma has increased in size, they may be advised to undergo surgery. People with meningiomas that experience bothersome symptoms will be recommended surgery right away, as their lives may be at stake. As a general rule, the younger the patient with meningioma is, the better their prognosis will be.
Meningiomas can be either benign or malignant. The majority of meningiomas are benign, which means that they are not cancerous and thereby cannot spread to nearby tissues or organs. For malignant meningiomas, there is a grading system that is used by medical professionals to assess the severity of the diagnosis, namely:
- grade I: if a patient has a grade I meningioma, their tumor is growing slowly
- grade II: people with grade II meningiomas experience a faster growth of the tumor, which is also known as atypical meningioma
- grade III: if a patient has a grade III meningioma, their tumor will be referred to as anaplastic meningioma and this means that their meningioma is spreading rapidly to adjacent parts of the body
Symptoms of Meningioma
The symptoms of meningioma range in frequency and severity depending on the size and location of the tumor within the brain. Nonetheless, the most common symptoms of meningioma include the following:
Diagnosis of Meningioma
The diagnostic procedure for meningioma begins with your doctor asking you about the symptoms you are experiencing and, if they suspect you have a meningioma, they will order one or more of the following tests to confirm or deny your diagnosis:
- neurological exam: during a neurological exam, the medical specialist will look for changes in motor and sensory function, vision, coordination, balance, mental status, as well as in mood or behavior
- imaging test: you will undergo a CT or MRI scan, which will provide your physician with clear and detailed images of your brain so that they can determine if there is a tumor present on the organ
- biopsy: if malignant meningioma is suspected, your doctor may order a biopsy, which entails a medical specialist collecting a sample of tissue from the tumor to subsequently be examined by a pathologist to see if the cells are cancerous
The exact cause of meningioma is not clear at the moment. However, medical researchers found that hormonal fluctuations may increase the risk of developing meningioma. Furthermore, medical researchers found a chromosome defect in a considerable percentage of meningiomas, which means that this type of tumor may be the result of genetic factors. The following are the risk factors for meningioma:
- age: meningioma is most common in people over the age of 65, although it can occur at any age
- gender: women are 2 times more prone to developing meningioma than men, even though men and women are equally affected by malignant meningioma
- radiation exposure: exposure to radiation of the head area increases the risk of coming to struggle with meningioma, which refers to accidental exposure to radiation and radiotherapy as a treatment for ringworm on the scalp
- genetic disorders: people who suffer from a hereditary syndrome known as neurofibromatosis type 2 have a higher risk of developing meningioma, as well as a higher risk of coming to struggle with malignant meningioma
- race and ethnicity: African-Americans have a higher risk of developing meningioma than Caucasians and meningioma is more common in Africa than in North America and Europe
Since the precise cause of meningioma has not yet been found, there is no known way to prevent meningioma. Nevertheless, one way you can lower your risk of developing it if certain risk factors are present in your life is to limit your exposure to radiation in the head area.