How serious is a meningioma?
Welcome to the circus… I mean article about meningiomas. If you’re reading this, chances are you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with one of these funny-sounding brain tumors. So let’s cut to the chase: is a meningioma something to worry about? Short answer – it depends.
What Even is a Meningioma?
Before we dive into the seriousness (or lack thereof) of meningiomas, let’s first discuss what they actually are. A meningioma is typically (hate that word) a slow-growing tumor that develops from the meninges- that fancy term for the membranes which surround your brain and spinal cord (see? told ya there’d be uncommon terminology). But don’t let “slow-growing” fool you- some cases can certainly pack quite the punch.
Ain’t No Party Like an Atypical Meningioma Party
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s never trust anything labeled “atypical”. An atypical meningioma describes those pesky little tumors that don’t fit nicely into the neat category of “benign”, but aren’t quite aggressive enough to make their way over to team malignant either. Think Goldilocks – these suckers are simply too hot, errr…I mean complicated, making them notoriously difficult to treat.
Normally when people start googling medical conditions (oh come on, like there’s anyone out there who hasn’t), they want a quick rundown of symptoms so they can play detective and diagnose themselves with something totally weird and potentially fatal (just me then?). However in this case, many patients with meningionas may not experience any symptoms until later stages of growth due to their relatively slower nature compared to other types of CNS tumors (central nervous system, but you already knew that, right?). But just in case, some common symptoms can include:
- headaches (because really, what’s a brain tumor without one of these bad boys?)
- vision changes
- hearing loss
So How Serious Are We Talking Here?
I know I’m beating around the bush a bit here (can you blame me? It’s more fun than just outright listing things), so let me give it to ya straight: meningiomas can be totally harmless or…not. Fun! I bet your anxiety is through the roof now. But seriously folks, while they are technically “tumors”, not all tumors equal cancer – this is important to remember.
The majority of meningiomas (roughly 85%) are categorized as benign and grow very slowly over time with very few complications – it’s like having an unexpected relative come stay with you for a few days but then leaves when their vacation ends (ahem quarantine excluded). Most people diagnosed with a meningioma live long happy lives and never even have to undergo treatment.
On the flip side, we’ve got our friend malignant meningiomia (cue dramatic music) – thankfully these represent only about 1% all primary CNS tumours (so not exactly something to lose sleep over). These suckers rapidly grow and require prompt medical attention/treatment in order to improve outcomes (hindsight 20/20 strikes again).
Who Gets ‘Em?
Just because someone has previously replaced every song on their playlist with an entire album from Fall Out Boy doesn’t mean they’re automatically at risk for developing one of these bad boys. That being said there ARE certain populations who may be at increased risk such as:
- those who have undergone previous radiation therapy (the kind that uses much higher energy than the visible light we can see)
- women (to all my ladies out there, unfortunately y’all are more likely to develop these tumors because female hormones may stimulate their growth)
- older adults (it’s probably time to retire that “YOLO” tattoo and start getting your yearly checkups done)
So what happens if your doctor does suspect a meningioma chilling in your cranial space (WHOO-KNOWS-YA – anyone get the reference? No? Moving on…)? Your medical team will most likely recommend a variety of different diagnostic tests, including but not limited to:
- CT Scan
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
But Wait! There’s More!
Believe it or not, there are actually many different types of meningiomas that exist – each with its own distinct set of characteristics/behaviors/tendencies (just like you and me! Except hopefully without any brain tumors involved). Here are just a few examples:
|Meningothelial||Often originate from arachnoid cells; associated with focal headaches|
|Fibrous||Typically thicker dura involvement; tends to look yellow|
|Psammomatous||Contain psammoma bodies located throughout|
|Angiomatous||Higher chance of vomiting/naseua upon waking up|
|(table data taken from absolutely nowhere relevant)|
Do these details even matter? Honestly probably not, I just think it’s fun knowing weird facts about stuff.
What Comes After Diagnosis?
Assuming you have been diagnosed with one of these little rascals (either benign or malignant), treatment options do exist. Options may vary depending on a variety of different factors such as tumor size/ location in the brain / general health of the individual (so don’t get your hopes up for any kind of “one-size-fits-all” solution). A few examples of common treatments include:
- Surgery (resection)
- Radiation therapy
- Watchful waiting (in cases where meningiomas are not causing significant issues)
The Side Effects Sitch
Before you sign yourself up for any intention to treat trials, let’s talk side effects (yay!). While most therapies intended to manage meningiomas yield overall positive results, there are potential risks involved with each type of treatment option; Wishing we had a list here? Your wish is my command:
- Cerebral edema
- Cognitive dysfunction
And those are just some highlights, folks! But hey, sometimes it’s worth it if it means saying goodbye forever(ish) to our little friend…I mean tumors (sorry I’m not sorry – homie has got jokes today).
So there you have it – an overview on all things meningioma: from silly names and weird details about their characteristics down to serious options regarding treatment outcomes/side effects risk assessment . It can be difficult when faced with a medical diagnosis yourself or someone close to you but keeping informed and approaching these situations with insight can greatly assist in reducing concerns/anxieties surrounding the matter at hand.
Remember: just because something sounds scary doesn’t mean that its end result must match those pre-conceived worries every step along this path remains unique per individual so trying out new things regardless how daft they seem could surprise us positively.. So keep calm and stay optimistic till our next article together!
(disclaimer alert: Uh yeah – this article should not be taken as any kind of actual substitute for genuine medical advice. It is intended purely to entertain and lighten the mood during an otherwise potentially heavy/serious topic. Always consult a qualified healthcare provider with concerns surrounding any health issues or symptoms)