Meningiomas are the most common benign brain tumour and generally affect people between the ages of 40 and 70. Women are about twice as likely to be affected than men. Meningiomas arise from the meninges, the lining layers of the brain that lie just underneath the skull, so in fact they are not really in the brain at all but tend to 'push' the brain away as they slowly grow. These tumours can also occur in the spine.

Meningiomas often come to medical attention because of headaches, or sometimes seizures. Rarely, they can caus pressure effects on the brain or the cranial nerves, causing effects such as loss of vision. Sometimes they can be found on a brain scan that was done for another reason. Often they will have been growing slowly for a few years before they are noticed.

There is no known cause for meningiomas. Very rarely they can be found in association with a rare genetic condition known as Neurofibromatosis.

The diagnosis of meningioma is made by brain imaging, either through CT or MRI with the addition of contrast.

The treatment is often surgery to attempt to remove the tumour. Whether it can be removed or not depends very much on its location in the brain, its size and whether it is close to any important nerves or structures in the brain. If the tumour can be completely removed it can be considered cured. However, if it can't be removed, there is a small risk of it continuing to grow in the future. But these tumours do not generally grow out of control or spread through the body or brain like cancers.

In unusual cases, radiotherapy treatment may be recommended for inoperable or recurrent tumours. There is no available chemotherapy or other alternative treatments for meningiomas at the present time.

MRI showing large meningioma.