Improving Brain Tumour Care surveys share your experiences and help create change


A meningioma is a type of brain tumour that begins in the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain. These tumours differ in grade and type, but are usually low grade. Relatively common, almost a quarter of all brain tumours in adults are meningiomas. They’re very rare in children.

If you or someone you know has just been diagnosed with a brain tumour, you may be in a state of shock. It’s natural to feel this way and we understand. That’s why our Support Team is here to help answer any questions you may have or provide a listening ear if you need one.

We’ll cover the following on this page:

What is a meningioma?

A meningioma (pronounced men-in-gee-oh-ma) is a tumour that grows in the set of three membranes just inside the skull, called the meninges. The function of these membranes is to cover and protect the brain and spinal cord.

Meningiomas can be grades 1, 2 or 3, but there are no grade 4 ones. Within these grades, there are also different types, which you may hear during your diagnosis or during consultations with your healthcare team.

Meningiomas are usually:

  • low grade tumours
  • slow growing
  • unlikely to spread.

However, some types don’t behave as expected and can grow quicker than others.

Grade 1 meningiomas are the most common and may not cause symptoms for many years after diagnosis, therefore not needing immediate treatment.

Some of the different types are:

  • meningothelial
  • fibrous (fibroblastic)
  • transitional (mixed)
  • psammomatous
  • angiomatous
  • microcystic
  • secretory
  • lymphoplasmacyte-rich
  • metaplastic .

These are slow growing, but may be more likely to come back after treatment, possibly as a higher grade.

Some of the different types of grade 2 meningioma are:

  • chordoid
  • clear cell
  • atypical.

These are very rare and faster growing, with a higher chance of recurring after treatment.

Some of the different types of grade 3 meningioma are:

  • papilliary
  • rhabdoid
  • anaplastic.

Back to the top

What treatment do people diagnosed with a meningioma usually have first?

If you’ve just been diagnosed with a brain tumour and are about to have treatment, you may want to see what other people’s first treatment was. Use the First Treatment insight in BRIAN, which you can personalise to make it relevant to you.

A coloured piechart showing example data from BRIAN of which treatment people had first following a brain tumour diagnosis. Chemotherapy (shown in red) is 10.0%, Surgery (shown in green) is 36.0%, Active Monitoring (shown in light grey) is 1.5%, Palliative Care (shown in orange) is 6.1%, Not known (shown in dark grey) is 17.9%, Hormone Therapy (shown in lilac) is 0.4%, Other (shown in yellow) is 1.1%, Radiotherapy (shown in purple) is 26.9%

BRIAN is our trusted online app where you can track your experience, compare it with others who’ve been there and get the knowledge you need to make informed decisions.

What are the meningioma symptoms?

These tumours can often be present in the brain without causing any symptoms for many years.

Meningioma symptoms usually begin gradually, as they gently push and compress brain tissue, rather than invading it. As with other brain tumours, the symptoms will depend on which part of the brain is affected.

That being said, meningioma symptoms could include:

  • Headaches
  • Change in vision, like partial loss of vision or double vision
  • Cognitive difficulties like memory loss
  • Hearing loss or ringing in the ears
  • Loss of smell
  • Seizures (epilepsy)
  • Feeling weak in your limbs

Find out more

Back to the top

Susan Jones, diagnosed with a meningioma in 2014

Five years ago I felt like my life was over, but now, despite everything, I’m really happy.


Back to the top

An older couple sit close together on a sofa using a tablet, they look comfortable and deep in thought.

Get your free Information Pack

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with a brain tumour and you don’t know which way to turn, start with our free Information Pack.

What causes meningiomas?

As with all brain tumours, the answer is we don’t yet know.

It’s important to know there is nothing you could have done, or avoided doing, that would have caused you to develop a brain tumour.

Research is ongoing to find out the causes and help to develop treatment targeted at these.

We are starting to learn some of the risk factors. A risk factor is something that increases your chance of developing a tumour, but most do not directly cause the tumour.

This means that some people with several risk factors may never develop a tumour, while others with no known risk factors do develop a tumour.


Theare more common in people aged over 50, and particularly in people over 65 years.


Grade 1 meningiomas are more common in women and it’s thought this may be linked to female hormones, while grade 2 and 3 types are equally common in men and women.


As well as being more common in women, it‘s also been noted that occasionally meningiomas can grow faster during pregnancy. Some studies have also suggested a link between breast cancer and meningioma risk.

In addition, it’s been found that some meningiomas have specialised cells (called receptors) that interact with the female hormones, progesterone and oestrogen. This has led doctors to believe that female hormones may play a role in increasing your risk of developing this tumour type.

Research is looking at the role of hormones in the growth of meningiomas to understand the significance of this.

Radiation treatment

Exposure to radiation, particularly to the head and particularly in childhood, may increase the risk of developing a meningioma later in life. This could include accidental exposure to radiation or radiation therapy as a treatment for various medical conditions.


Women who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more have a 60% higher risk of developing a meningioma than women who have a BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9.

This is thought to be due to the fact that fatty tissue produces hormones such as oestrogen.


A small number of brain tumours occur as a result of rare genetic conditions.

For example, the rare condition neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) causes (usually low grade) tumours to grow along the nerves, including those in the brain and spinal cord. As a result, it’s known to increase the risk of developing brain tumours, including meningiomas.

Did you know that we have an Online Support Group specifically for people affected by a meningioma diagnosis?

Join today

Back to the top

How are meningiomas treated?

Meningiomas are normally treated according to their grade, but their location, size, and the symptoms you’re having will also affect which treatment you’re offered.

People who are diagnosed with a grade 1 meningioma are often put on active monitoring treatment (also known as ‘watch and wait’), with surgery and radiotherapy offered at a later date, if needed.

Grade 2 and 3 types usually have surgery, then radiotherapy.

Find out more

How long can I live with a meningioma?

As with all brain tumours, this is difficult to answer. Your doctor can give you an estimate, based on your tumour grade, location and current health. But they may not be able to predict other factors, like how fast it might grow or how well you could respond to treatment.

Meningioma prognosis

Back to the top

Download our factsheet

Meningioma factsheet – PDF

Find out more about meningiomas, including symptoms, treatments and risk factors in our new meningioma factsheet.

If you have further questions, need to clarify any of the information on this page, or want to find out more about research and clinical trials, please contact our team:
Support and Information Services
0808 800 0004 Free from landlines and mobiles
Phone lines open Mon-Fri, 09:00-17:00
Check the signs and symptoms of a brain tumour

Get support

If you need someone to talk to or advice on where to get help, our Support and Information team is available by phone, email or live-chat.

Check the signs and symptoms of a brain tumour

Share your experiences and help create change

By taking part in our Improving Brain Tumour Care surveys and sharing your experiences, you can help us improve treatment and care for everyone affected by a brain tumour.