Meningiomas are tumors of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. They are the most common non-malignant tumors affecting the central nervous system. Most meningiomas are slow-growing and cause few, if any, symptoms. A small subset, though, can cause serious neurologic and cognitive problems and can be life-threatening.
If your primary care doctor suspects you have a brain or spinal cord tumor, you may be referred to a neurologist for testing. Imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scan are typically used to diagnose meningiomas.
Mass General Brigham is home to some of the world's most skilled brain tumor specialists, who work together to deliver the safest, most effective treatments for all types of meningiomas. Your care team may use one or more of the following approaches to give you the best chance at a successful outcome.
Observation, also called "watchful waiting," may be suitable for small tumors that are causing no symptoms. These tumors typically are slow-growing and may not affect the brain, nerves or crucial blood vessels. In these cases, we generally perform MRI or CT scans every six to 12 months to monitor the meningioma. If we observe growth or symptoms develop, it’s best to consider appropriate treatment options with a meningioma expert.
Surgery for tumor removal is the most common treatment for meningiomas. Your neurosurgeon will aim to remove as much of the tumor as safely possible, along with the membranes from which it originates.
Mass General Brigham neurosurgeons are particularly adept in treating meningiomas located in any area of the brain, including those nearby or attached to critical nerves or blood vessels. Ideally, we are able to remove the entire tumor, which decreases the risk of recurrence and may offer a cure.
Surgery for aggressive meningiomas is often followed by radiation therapy to target any remaining cells.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill tumor cells. The goal is to shrink or eliminate tumor cells without damaging healthy surrounding tissue.
Mass General Brigham offers the latest radiation technologies, some of which are found in few other U.S. hospitals, to more fully treat patients with aggressive meningiomas. These include:
Proton beam therapy, an advanced form of radiation treatment, uses a high-energy, focused proton beam to target tumors with incredible precision. Compared with the use of X-ray beams, proton beam therapy reduces side effects because less radiation goes through the tumor and into normal surrounding tissue. It also delivers a greater concentration of radiation to the desired target, which may improve tumor control and the chance of a cure.
Mass General Brigham is home to the only proton therapy center in the northeastern United States, and brings unparalleled experience in treating benign and malignant tumors with this approach. In fact, we were the world's first center to harness the power of high-energy protons for medical care.
Meet Mass General Brigham's multidisciplinary team of neurosurgeons and other meningioma experts.
Each year, thousands of patients from more than 140 countries travel to Mass General Brigham for medical care, second opinions and treatments unavailable anywhere else in the world.
Mass General Brigham is experienced in caring for brain tumor patients who are traveling great distances to our hospitals in Boston. Your cancer team here and our international patient services team will help you prepare for and plan the appropriate amount of time to stay in Boston for your appointments, treatments and any recovery time. During this recovery time in Boston or back home in your country, our clinical team will monitor your well-being and progressions to continuously optimize your treatment plan and symptoms.
Our international patients often have questions about everything from travel and lodging to scheduling appointments. Our International Patient Care Team is here to help. We look forward to making your Mass General Brigham experience as healing and stress-free as possible.
Learn more about our neuro-oncology expertise.