Un meningioma is a generally benign (non-cancerous) tumor that occurs in the membranes that line the brain and spinal cord: the meninges. The meninges are made up of three layers: dura mater (protection), arachnoid mater, and pia mater (nutrition). Below the arachnoid is the cerebrospinal fluid, responsible for cushioning the blows to reduce the probability of trauma. Tumors occur most frequently in the brain and represent 30% of primary brain tumors, which are not the result of metastasis (spread) from another cancer. They are more common in middle-aged women, but they can also occur in men and children. It occurs in 6 out of 100,000 people per year; most do not have symptoms because they are small and are only diagnosed at autopsies—symptoms, treatment, and sequelae related to Meningioma.
Most meningiomas are small (less than 2 cm) and slow-growing, so the symptoms are very mild, but they can appear progressively as the tumor increases. Symptoms are related to the location and size of the tumor. The most common meningioma symptoms are:
- Headache (headache) that gets worse over time.
- Visual problems (blurred or double vision).
- Weakness in arms and legs.
- Speech problems
- Loss of smell or hearing.
However, the symptoms can vary, including personality change or memory loss.
To diagnose Meningioma, the following can be used:
- Computed tomography: X-rays are used to create cross-sectional (horizontal) images of the brain; software is responsible for joining them and creating a complete picture in three dimensions.
- Magnetic resonance imaging – A magnetic field and radio waves are required to create cross-sectional brain images. This procedure gives a more detailed picture of the brain and tumors. A liquid called contrast medium may be injected to obtain more detailed images.
A biopsy can be done to get more detailed information about the tumor, but it is not recommended to do it if it is in a high-risk place.
The chosen meningioma treatment will need to consider many factors, including the size, location, aggressiveness of the tumor, possible side effects, and the person’s opinion and state of health.
If the tumor is not causing symptoms, it is recommended to observe cancer progression with constant check-ups. Treatment will be started if the tumor is thought to cause problems or symptoms.
Surgery is the treatment in which the tumor tissue and a layer of healthy tissue are removed. A craniotomy is performed where a piece of bone is removed, and the place where the tumor is located is accessed; it is the most frequently used treatment. An analysis of the drawn sample should be performed to determine if additional treatment is necessary. The tumor’s location determines the possibility or not of operating; those tumors located in high-risk areas (close to the optic nerve or a respiratory center, for example) should be managed with another therapy.
It refers to the use of ionizing rays to destroy tumor cells. The most widely used type of radiation is X-rays. New technologies are currently being developed that are safer and reduce collateral damage, for example, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) or stereostatic radiosurgery (SRS). Some doctors recommend using this therapy in conjunction with surgery to slow the rate of tumor growth. This treatment has several adverse effects, including fatigue, skin reactions, stomach pain, and neurological or hormonal problems.
It uses drugs to combat the growth and division of tumor cells. A pill containing the drug can be injected or taken, which begins to move through the bloodstream until tumor cells are found and killed. For meningiomas, chemotherapy is not widely used because the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) has a mechanism for filtering the contents in the blood, called the blood-brain barrier, so that the toxic contents do not reach the neurons. Unfortunately, many of the drugs used in chemotherapy also do not pass this barrier.
Meningiomas behave benignly (do not metastasize), so the prognosis is usually favorable.
The Simpson scale is used to measure the probability of a tumor recurrence ten years after having performed the surgery. Depending on the level of success of the procedure, that probability can be evaluated. In surgeries with a complete extraction that includes the bone and the nearby dura, the chance is only 9%, while in incomplete extractions, the probability can increase up to 40%.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.