The causes of meningioma are not yet fully understood. In fact, several research studies suggest that many meningiomas develop spontaneously, or without a known cause. Sometimes, these tumors can disappear spontaneously as well.
Meningiomas, like other solid tumors, develop when healthy cells undergo genetic mutations that cause them to replicate uncontrollably. These mutated cells create copies of themselves, which can slowly accumulate into a tumor.
Researchers have discovered several meningioma causes that can trigger these cellular changes, including:
- Genetic mutations – Up to 80 percent of all meningiomas contain an abnormality on chromosome 22. Normally, this chromosome is responsible for suppressing tumor growth. When it does not function as intended, however, the cells in the meninges (the protective barrier around the brain and spinal cord) can reproduce uncontrollably and develop into a tumor.
- Exposure to high doses of ionizing radiation – Although research findings are still inconclusive, there is some evidence to suggest that radiation exposure – especially to the head or neck – can cause cellular damage that can trigger the development of brain tumors.
- Hormones – Lab studies have shown that meningioma cells tend to multiply when exposed to progesterone, suggesting that the hormone could trigger the growth of these tumors. However, it’s still unclear how – or even if – specific hormones should be included among the known meningioma causes.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, our brain tumor research team is continuously discovering more information about the causes of meningioma. We are not only investigating the cellular changes that cause these tumors to develop, but also researching the best ways to destroy or reprogram malfunctioning cells. Through the use of novel options such as immunotherapies and hormonal therapies, we are consistently working to improve patient outcomes and quality of life.
To consult with the experts of our Neuro-Oncology Program about meningioma causes and treatments, call 1-888-MOFFITT or submit a new patient registration form online. You do not need a referral to schedule a consultation.