Meningioma: Symptoms and Signs

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 04/2014

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People with meningioma may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with meningioma do not show any of these symptoms. Or, these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition that is not a tumor.

Symptoms of meningioma can be caused by the pressure of the tumor on the brain or spinal cord, by the tumor stopping the normal functioning of a specific part of the brain, or by pressure on nerves or blood vessels near the tumor. Additionally, if the meningioma involves nearby bone, it may cause the bone to expand. Generally, meningioma is not diagnosed until symptoms begin.

General symptoms from the pressure of the tumor on the brain or spinal cord:

  • Seizures. Motor seizures, also called convulsions, are sudden involuntary movements of a person’s muscles. People may experience different types of seizures, including myoclonic, tonic-clonic (grand mal), sensory, and complex partial. Certain drugs can help prevent or control them. The differences between these types of seizures can be found below:
    • Myclonic
      • Single or multiple muscle twitches, jerks, spasms
  • Tonic-Clonic (Grand Mal)
    • Loss of consciousness and body tone, followed by twitching and relaxing muscle contractions
    • Loss of control of body functions
    • May be a short 30-second period of no breathing and the person may turn a shade of blue
    • After this type of seizure a person may be sleepy and experience a headache, confusion, weakness, numbness, and sore muscles.
  • Sensory
    • Change in sensation, vision, smell, and/or hearing without losing consciousness
  • Complex partial
    • May cause a loss of awareness or a partial or total loss of consciousness
    • May be associated with repetitive, unintentional movements, such as twitching
  • Headaches, which may be severe and may worsen with activity or in the early morning
  • Personality or memory changes
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blurred vision

Symptoms that may be specific to the location of the tumor include:

Falx and parasagittal meningioma

  • Leg weakness

Convexity meningioma

  • Seizures
  • Headaches
  • Focal neurological deficits. These are problems with nerve function that affect either a specific location, such as the left side of the face, right side of the face, left arm, right arm, left leg, right leg, or a small area, such as the tongue. The tumor can also affect a specific function. For example, speech may be affected, but not the ability to write. It also may cause a loss of movement or sensation.
  • Personality or memory changes

Sphenoid meningioma

  • Loss of sensation or numbness in the face
  • Loss of patches of sight within field of vision, blindness, double vision

Olfactory groove meningioma

  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Loss of patches of sight within field of vision, blindness, double vision

Posterior fossa meningioma

  • Sharp pains in the face, facial numbness, and spasms of the facial muscles
  • Loss of hearing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Trouble walking

Suprasellar meningioma

  • Swelling of the optic disk, which is in the retina of the eye where nerve fibers come together to form part of the optic nerve.
  • Loss of patches of sight within field of vision, blindness, double vision

Spinal meningioma

  • Back pain
  • Pain in the limbs or chest
  • Numbness and weakness or the arms and/or legs
  • Reduced function of the bowel or bladder

Intraorbital meningioma

  • Bulging of the eye
  • Loss of vision

Intraventricular meningioma

  • Personality or memory changes
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

If you are concerned about one or more of the symptoms or signs on this list, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help find out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If a brain tumor is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of care and treatment. This may also be called symptom management, palliative care, or supportive care. Be sure to talk with your health care team about symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section helps explain what tests and scans may be needed to learn more about the cause of your symptoms. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Diagnosis, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.