A patient with any neurological symptoms will first be given a physical exam that includes neurologic function tests (reflexes, muscle strength, eye and mouth movement, coordination, and alertness). If a tumor is suspected, the patient will have imaging tests so that doctors can look into the brain for any abnormality. These tests may include:
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scans produce detailed images of the brain and spine and allow doctors to detect the presence of a tumor.
An angiogram, which allows a surgeon to see detailed images of blood vessels, may be ordered if the meningioma involves nearby veins and arteries.
A multidisciplinary team like the one at the Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center evaluates each patient and recommends an individual treatment plan. The usual treatment for meningioma is surgery (see Surgery for Meningioma), but a treatment plan may include radiation, stereotactic radiosurgery, or medications. Treatment options include:
When a meningioma is malignant, radiation therapy may help kill cancer cells left behind after surgery.
Stereotactic radiosurgery is not traditional surgery at all, but highly focused beams of radiation aimed at a tumor from multiple angles. It may be used alone or in combination with open surgery. Commonly known by the names of the machines used — including CyberKnife, Gamma Knife, or LINAC (linear accelerator) — stereotactic radiosurgery is an advanced specialty best performed by highly trained specialists in the field. (See more about the Stereotactic Radiosurgery Program.)
Chemotherapy has generally not been used against meningioma, but it may become part of the treatment plan if the tumor is malignant or recurs after surgery.
Other treatments may include steroid treatment to reduce swelling, or anti-seizure medication. Researchers are now investigating other treatments for meningiomas and other brain tumors. (Find out more about brain tumor research and brain tumor clinical trials at the Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center.)
The prognosis for meningioma varies depending on the grade of the tumor and the age and health of the patient. Odds of a cure are excellent for the majority of benign tumors in patients under age 70.
Reviewed by: Rohan Ramakrishna, M.D.
Last reviewed/last updated: August 2023