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 may 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 lining or barrier around the brain and spinal cord) can reproduce uncontrollably and develop into a tumor. Some genetic mutations may be associated with the genetic disorders neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2), schwannomatosis, and multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1), and all of known to increase the patient’s risk of developing meningioma.
- 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 – Hormonal factors may have a role in the development of meningioma. Lab studies have shown that meningioma cells have hormone receptors (progesterone, estrogen and androgen) and tend to multiply when exposed to it, suggesting that the hormones could trigger the growth of these tumors. In addition, the incidence of meningioma is higher in women compared with men particularly during the peak reproductive years, suggesting a hormonal role for these findings.
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.
Medically reviewed by, Andre Beer, MD, Neuro-Oncology.
To consult with the experts of our Neuro-Oncology Program about meningioma causes and treatments, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online. You do not need a referral to schedule a consultation.