Meningioma: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 06/2020

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People with meningioma may experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes, people with meningioma do not have any of these changes. Or, the cause of a symptom may be a different medical condition that is not a tumor.

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

General symptoms

General symptoms from the tumor pressing 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 are explained below:
    • Myoclonic

      • Single or multiple muscle twitches, jerks, and/or 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 specific to the tumor’s location

Symptoms of falx and parasagittal meningioma

  • Leg weakness

  • Headaches

  • Seizures

Symptoms of convexity meningioma

  • Seizures

  • Headaches

  • Focal neurological deficits. These are nerve problems that affect either a specific location or a small area. These problems may affect a side of the face or an arm or leg. They may also affect a smaller area like 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 feeling.

  • Personality or memory changes

Symptoms of sphenoid meningioma

  • Loss of feeling or numbness in the face

  • Loss of patches of sight within the field of vision, blindness, double vision

  • Headaches

Symptoms of olfactory groove meningioma

  • Loss of smell

  • Loss of patches of sight within the field of vision, blindness, double vision

  • Headaches

Symptoms of posterior fossa meningioma

  • Sharp pains in the face, facial numbness, and spasms of the facial muscles

  • Loss of hearing

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Trouble walking

Symptoms of 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 the field of vision, blindness, double vision

Symptoms of spinal meningioma

  • Back pain

  • Pain in the limbs or chest

  • Numbness and weakness or the arms and/or legs

  • Difficulties with bodily functions of the bowel or bladder

Symptoms of intraorbital meningioma

  • Bulging of the eye

  • Loss of vision

Symptoms of intraventricular meningioma

  • Personality or memory changes

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

If you are concerned about any changes you experience, 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 figure 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 be called palliative care or supportive care. It is often started soon after diagnosis and continued throughout treatment. Be sure to talk with your health care team about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is DiagnosisIt explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.