Brain and spinal tumours

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Meningioma

Meningiomas start in the cells of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord (meninges). Meningiomas can be low to high grade (grades 1–3).

Meningiomas are a common primary brain tumour in adults. Sometimes meningioma runs in families, especially in people with neurofibromatosis. Meningioma occurs more often in women.

Benign meningioma

Benign meningiomas are low-grade (grade 1) tumours that account for approximately 70%–80% of all meningiomas. Benign meningiomas are the most common non-cancerous (benign) brain tumour and are found most often in people between the ages of 50 and 80.

The following are treatments for benign meningiomas:

Surgery is used to remove all of the tumour or as much of the tumour as possible.

Radiation therapy may be given after surgery if the tumour was not completely removed or as the main treatment if surgery can’t be done. Stereotactic radiosurgery may be used after surgery for small tumours that remain.

Active surveillance with regular MRI scans may be done to watch for growth of the tumour in people who have no symptoms and who can’t have surgery.

Atypical meningioma

Atypical or invasive meningiomas are low-grade (grade 2) tumours, but they grow faster than benign meningiomas and may spread to nearby tissue. They often come back after treatment (recur).

The following are treatments for atypical meningiomas:

Surgery is used to remove all of the tumour or as much of the tumour as possible.

Radiation therapy may be given after surgery, especially if the tumour can’t be completely removed.

Anaplastic or malignant meningioma

Anaplastic or malignant meningiomas are high-grade (grade 3) tumours. They are the least common type of meningioma. They often spread to nearby brain and bone tissue and may spread to other parts of the body.

The following are treatments for anaplastic meningiomas:

Surgery is used to remove all of the tumour or as much of the tumour as possible.

Radiation therapy is given after surgery.

Clinical trials

Some clinical trials in Canada are open to people with meningioma. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.

neurofibromatosis

A genetic condition that affects the nervous system. It affects the development and growth of neurons (nerve cells), causes tumours (neurofibromas) to grow on nerves and may produce other abnormalities in muscles, bones and skin.

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