According to the National Cancer Institute (2012), a meningioma is a slow-growing tumor that develops from the meninges, which are the thin layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord. The cerebrospinal fluid flows between the meningeal spaces. Meningiomas typically occur in adults, and they are “graded” either I, II, or III by the World Health Organization (WHO) classification to determine their aggressiveness and propensity towards growth and spread.
Meningiomas represent the second most common brain tumor, comprising nearly 20% to 30% of tumors. Women are diagnosed with meningiomas nearly twice as much as their male counterparts. While nearly 80% of meningiomas are benign, or noncancerous, patients may still have pain, disfiguration, and even neurological side effects such as dizziness, seizures, and vision changes, among others depending on the location of the meningioma.
Providers use MRI, CT scan, and histopathology to definitively diagnose meningiomas. Because meningiomas are slow-growing, treatment can range from periodic imaging and symptom management to the standard-of care surgery to conventional radiation or Gamma Knife. The prognosis for most meningiomas is good.
Meningioma work-up can be extremely frightening for patients and families, and even the benign diagnosis can continue to distress patients as they experience symptoms from the tumor and go through treatment. Nurses can help provide much-needed education and supportive care for patients and families experiencing a meningioma diagnosis.
Disclosure: This article is sponsored by Skull Base Institute.