Meningiomas are slow-growing tumors that can remain asymptomatic. You may develop the tumor and live without noticing, and its discovery could be accidental. In such instances, treatment may not be necessary. This is more so since meningiomas are usually non-cancerous, meaning they don’t invade the nearby tissue. If observation shows that the tumor is growing much faster or you start to experience symptoms, various meningioma treatments may be explored to improve the prognosis and quality of your life. Here is a glance at the common meningioma treatments, their advantages, and potential downsides.
Surgery is usually the primary meningioma treatment. Surgical treatment and management aim at complete tumor removal. Sometimes, the surgery is designed to reduce the tumor’s size and minimize the compression. Shrinking the tumor is done when removal is deemed too risky, such as considering its location and the patient’s situation. Removing the non-cancerous tumor offers benefits including:
- Symptoms relief
- Meningioma tumors can cause symptoms including:
- Vision problems
- Balance difficulties, to name a few
The symptoms can take a toll on your life, which surgical removal remediates. Removing the tumor or shrinking its size reduces the compression caused that disrupts functionality. This alleviates the symptoms and facilitates better functionality.
Better quality of life
Meningioma symptoms can significantly disrupt your life. The headaches can affect your ability to manage daily-life activities, while balance difficulties expose you to more injury risks, especially combined with vision issues and seizures. Moreover, the uncertainty and worries about what could happen affect your ability to lead a productive and fulfilling life. When surgically removed, such worries decrease. You also alleviate or eliminate the symptoms, allowing you to lead a better life.
Most meningioma tumors are benign, which is among the top reasons surgical treatment is the primary treatment. After surgical removal, the tumors may not reoccur, which improves the survival rate. Surgery can be combined with other meningioma treatments in case of recurrence to delay or stop progression, further improving the prognosis.
While surgery is the most effective meningioma treatment, it has some downsides. Like any surgery, patients are exposed to potential risks and complications. This includes infection, bleeding, and damage to surrounding tissues. The good news is modern medical advancements facilitate safer surgeries, mitigating the risks. Another significant surgery downside is that it isn’t ideal for everyone. Surgery may be deemed too risky considering meningioma location, size, age, and overall health.
Moreover, surgery often includes considerable downtime. You must stay in the hospital for some days as the specialists observe your progress and ensure you recover well. The hospital stay depends on the surgery procedure, tumor location, and size. The stay averages a few days and weeks, and after this, you may still deal with a few concerns before returning to your routine. For instance, patients may experience headaches and feel tired and weak for some days.
Radiation therapy is often the go-to if surgical meningioma treatment is off the table, such as due to location or pre-existing medical conditions that make surgical removal complex and high risk. Radiation therapy could also be used in combination with surgical removal when meningioma tumors are malignant. Radiation therapy helps destroy the cancer cells after surgery. This can minimize the chances of meningioma recurrence.
Unlike surgery, radiation therapy doesn’t include incisions. The non-invasive nature makes it a less-risky meningioma treatment, especially considering a patient’s overall health. The approach helps control the tumor’s growth by destroying its cells. This delays or stops the cells’ multiplication, reducing the tumor’s size and alleviating the compression and consequential symptoms.
Radiation therapy helps preserve neurological functions. This is when the tumor is near critical brain structures like nerves and blood vessels. In such a case, surgical removal could damage the structures. Radiation therapy provides a less risky alternative to address the tumors without impacting neurological function. Radiation therapy is also used for palliative care, designed to alleviate meningioma symptoms and improve a patient’s quality of life.
Radiation therapy is a practical surgery alternative or addition to the meningioma treatment option for optimal results. Nonetheless, it also has some downsides. Patients can experience unpleasant side effects like hair loss, nausea, vomiting, skin changes, and fatigue. The significant worry for most patients is the increased cancer risk due to radiation exposure.
Chemotherapy and medical management
Chemo and medical management is often used as adjuvant measure after meningioma surgery or radiation therapy. The meningioma treatments slow the tumor’s growth, helping improve the prognosis and patient’s quality of life. Chemotherapy and medical management can also help reduce meningioma size. This helps relieve the pressure on the affected areas, alleviating the symptoms.
Chemotherapy and medical management treatments can also help prevent meningioma recurrence. This is more so when the meningioma recur after surgery or spread to other parts, called metastasis. In such cases, meningioma tumors are malignant. Chemotherapy and medical treatments are used to target the cancer cells. This helps slow down their spread and progression, improving the prognosis and quality of life.
Medical and chemotherapy meningioma treatments have their fair share of downsides. Patients are likely to experience side effects, including:
- Appetite loss
- Hair loss
- Low platelet count
- Low white blood cell count
Chemotherapy could also lead to more serious side effects like organ damage.
The meningioma treatment strategy is primarily informed by the tumor symptoms, location, size, and patient’s overall health. Timely diagnosis can help facilitate better treatment. This is because you may not have experienced significant symptoms that affect your overall wellness. It means you could be a good candidate for surgical meningioma removal. It also has a higher chance of being removed with minimal recurrence chances since it is unlikely to have become malignant.
Meningioma tumors have no apparent cause. Nonetheless, certain factors increase the risk of developing brain or spinal cord tumors. The risk increases with advancing age, and individuals with a family history of certain genetic conditions have a higher chance of developing the tumor. This means there is no straightforward way to prevent the tumors, but the good news is that they are usually non-cancerous, and treatments help improve prognosis and quality of life.