What is meningioma?

Almost a quarter of all brain tumours in adults are meningiomas. They are most common in older people and in women; they are very rare in children. The majority of meningiomas are low grade and slow growing, however, some do not behave as expected and can be more aggressive.

Meningioma brain tumours develop in the meninges. The meninges are a set of three membranes that cover and protect the brain and spinal cord. They are called the dura mater, the arachnoid mater, and the pia mater.

What causes meningiomas?

As with most brain tumours, the cause of meingiomas is not known. Exposure to radiation is the only known environmental risk. A small number of brain tumours are caused by rare genetic conditions - the rare condition neurofibromatosis type 2 is known to increase the risk of meningioma and other brain tumours.

Meningiomas and hormones

Some meningiomas have specialised cells (receptors) that interact with hormones, including progesterone, androgen, and oestrogen. It has been observed that occasionally meningiomas can grow faster during pregnancy. Research is looking at the role of hormones in the growth of meningiomas to understand the significance of this.

Types of Meningioma brain tumour

Brain tumours are graded from 1 - 4, according to what they look like under the microscope as well as their behaviour, such as the speed at which they are growing. Meningiomas can be graded 1, 2 or 3.

Grade 1 Meningioma – the most common type, slow growing and less likely to return after treatment.

Grade 2 Meningioma – slow growing but may be more likely to recur after treatment.

Grade 3 Meningioma – very rare type, faster growing and has a higher chance of returning after treatment.

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