Meningioma is the most common type of brain tumour in Singapore. It grows on the meninges, which is the multilayered protective tissue covering the brain and spinal cord.

Most meningiomas are slow growing as well as benign, which means that they don’t spread to other parts of the body. However, if a meningioma becomes large, it can put pressure on the brain or spinal cord, irritate cranial nerves and injure blood vessels in the brain, leading to debilitating symptoms.

Occasionally, a meningioma can grow outward and cause the skull to thicken.

“NNI sees about 50-60 cases of meningioma per year. Only about 2 to 3 per cent of these are cancerous,” says Associate Professor Ng Wai Hoe, Senior Consultant and Medical Director, Department of Neurosurgery, National Neuroscience Institute (NNI), a member of the SingHealth group.

The typical patient is in the 40 to 60 year-old group. There is a slight female predilection (3:2 ratio).

Causes of meningioma

In the majority of cases, the exact cause of meningioma remains unknown.

But people with neurofibromatosis type 2, a rare and inherited nervous system disorder, are more susceptible to meningioma.

In some cases, an abnormality in the chromosome 22 has been found, but the cause of this abnormality is uncertain.

Symptoms of meningioma

Most benign meningioma tumours do not show any symptoms until they become large and start increasing intracranial pressure. Symptoms vary from patient to patient, depending on the meningioma’s location in the brain. These can include:

  • Persistent headaches and seizures (due to pressure and irritation on the surface of the brain)
  • Double and blurred vision (if the meningioma compresses the optic nerve or is large enough to cause generalized increase in pressure)
  • Numbness and weakness in the arms and legs (if the meningioma is near the brain’s motor and sensory areas)
  • Loss of smell, taste, hearing and memory (if the meningioma grows in the cranial cavity between the brow and nose)

Read on to learn how meningioma is diagnosed and the treatment options.

Ref: R14