What are meningiomas?

Your brain and spinal cord are surrounded by special tissues called meninges. Like all cells, cells in the meninges have to divide and grow to stay healthy. When cells divide, they make a copy of DNA. If the DNA copy has an error, it can cause the cell to grow and divide out of control into a tumor.

Meningioma is a type of brain tumor that develops when the DNA has an error. Not all meningiomas are cancerous—they may also be benign (not cancerous) or atypical (abnormal, but not necessarily cancerous). Most of the time, meningiomas grow on the brain. They rarely grow on the spinal cord.

Symptoms of meningiomas

Sometimes meningiomas have no symptoms at all. Depending on where tumors grow, you can have serious symptoms, including:

  • Seeing double or blurry vision
  • Headaches
  • Trouble hearing or hearing loss
  • Seizures
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of smell

These symptoms can start slowly. If you notice that these symptoms continue over time or get worse, you should see your doctor. 


If your meningioma has no symptoms, you may not need treatment. You'll have to keep an eye out for symptoms and get regular brain scans to make sure it isn't growing.

If you do have symptoms, you may need neurosurgery to remove the meningioma. Though meninges surround your brain, the tumors can grow down into brain tissues. Risks for surgery depend on where your tumor is, so talk to your doctor about your specific surgery. An expertly trained neurosurgeon will remove as much of the meningioma as possible without hurting healthy brain tissue.

If some of the meningioma had to be left behind or if your tumor is cancerous, you may need radiation therapy to kill the rest of the tumor. Radiation therapy uses high-energy particles or beams to kill tumor cells. Radiation therapy is very accurate, leaving healthy cells unharmed while killing tumor cells.

Advanced types of radiation therapy are designed specifically for brain tumors. Stereotactic radiosurgery uses several beams of radiation, aimed precisely at the tumor, to kill cells. It only takes a few hours to kill the tumor and requires no incisions.

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