What is meningioma?

A meningioma is a brain tumor. However, meningiomas do not grow from brain tissue. These tumors start from cells in the meninges, which are three thin layers of tissue covering the brain and spinal cord.

Meningiomas grow from cells in the middle layer, called the arachnoid. Most people only grow one meningioma. In rare cases, people may grow several meningiomas at once in different areas of the brain or spinal cord.

Most meningiomas are not cancerous, so they do not spread to other parts of the body. However, they can grow slowly until they are quite large. If they grow near sensitive locations in the brain, meningiomas can be disabling and life-threatening.

How common is meningioma?

Meningiomas are rare in children and occur in less than 5% of all primary brain tumors that occur between the ages of 0 to 18 years. They are more common in adults, mostly in females, but also occur in males.

What are the symptoms of meningioma?

Most meningiomas grow toward the brain or spinal cord, putting pressure on these areas. Symptoms of the tumor depend on where it is growing.

The symptoms of meningiomas may include any of the following:

  • Headache
  • Weakness in an arm or leg
  • Seizures
  • Personality changes
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Hearing loss or ringing in the ears
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Vision problems

Sometimes, meningiomas grow outward, toward the skull. This may cause the bone of the skull to thicken.

How is meningioma treated?

Surgery — is most often used to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Sometimes the whole tumor cannot be removed because doing so would risk damaging the brain. If the whole tumor cannot be removed, doctors may closely watch the tumor to see if it grows back. They may also use radiation therapy to treat the remaining part of the tumor.

Radiation therapy — uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill tumor cells or stop them from growing. External radiation uses machines outside the body to deliver the radiation dose. Different types of external radiation can be used in children. These include:

  • Standard external beam radiotherapy – uses several radiation beams to kill tumor cells.
  • Proton therapy – uses protons, a form of radioactivity, and directs them to the tumor.
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery – uses many different types of radiation beans to kill tumor cells.

The goal of each technique is to kill tumor cells or stop them from growing, while limiting the damage to healthy cells around the tumor. Each type of radiation therapy has advantages and disadvantages, which your doctor will discuss with you.

Closely watching over time – may be the right choice for people with few symptoms and little or no swelling in the brain near the tumor.

What are the survival rates for meningioma?

Generally, the outlook is good for a child whose tumor is removed completely with surgery.

Why choose St. Jude for your child’s meningioma treatment?

  • St. Jude has one of the largest pediatric brain tumor programs in the country. 
  • The St. Jude staff is dedicated to treating children who have serious illnesses. Here, you will find a hospital and staff that has only one focus—your child. 
  • St. Jude is committed to not only finding cures, but also helping children hold on to their quality of life. Children are not just small people. Their bodies and systems are unique, along with the disorders that affect them. For the best care, they need a specialized team. That is what you get from the St. Jude Brain Tumor Program. 
  • By working closely with the pediatric neurosurgeons at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, the St. Jude Brain Tumor Program offers an expert team of doctors from many medical fields. The team includes: neuro-oncologists, who study and treat cancer in the brain and nervous system; neurosurgeons, who operate on the brain, skull and spinal cord; and radiation oncologists, who treat cancer with radiation. All of these doctors have devoted their careers to finding cures and providing treatment for children with brain tumors. This diverse knowledge is vital to the complete care of children with brain tumors. 
  • Our brain tumor doctors also work closely with nursing, rehabilitation services, neuropathology, pharmacy, neuroradiology, neuropsychology, the school program, neurology, endocrinology, clinical nutrition, child life and social work, along with many others. Support staff members have been specially trained to care for children with brain tumors. We believe that providing holistic support for children and their families will ensure better quality of life. 
  • The nurse-to-patient ratio at St. Jude is unmatched— averaging 1:3 in hematology and oncology and 1:1 in the Intensive Care Unit. 
  • The St. Jude Brain Tumor Program has made great advances in treatments for brain tumor patients. Some of the world’s best neuroscientists, cancer biologists and doctors from the St. Jude Neurobiology and Brain Tumor Divisions combine their efforts to seek cures. In this interactive program, discoveries about the biology of both normal and harmful cell growth are rapidly tested in clinic studies. These studies include Phase I, II and III trials of the most common and deadly forms of childhood brain tumors. 
  • Being able to take many of our drugs directly from the lab to your child is one of the major advantages of centers like St. Jude. Before treating a patient with any new drug, the St. Jude staff does many tests in the lab. The tests show if the drug is safe, if it works, and the best way to use it to help patients. 
  • Along with the treatment studies constantly being developing at St. Jude, the staff also treats patients on studies developed by the Children’s Oncology Group, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium and the Pacific Pediatric Neuro-Oncology Consortium. Many St. Jude staff members play key roles in developing these studies, which are large tests carried out at centers across the United States. 
  • St. Jude practices patient family-centered care. Patient family-centered care is health care that focuses on the family as a child’s primary source of strength, support and well-being. At the heart of patient family-centered care is the belief that health care staff and the family are partners, working together to best meet the needs of the child. Excellence in health care happens when we work together and honor the expertise each of us brings to every health care encounter. 
  • St. Jude is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children.

Contact the Brain Tumor Team any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Call our Brain Tumor Coordinator, Tabatha E. Doyle, RN:
(901) 595-2544 or
(901) 595-4599

Or email us at

The St. Jude Web site is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through this site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.