Meningiomas make up about 20 percent of all brain tumors. A meningioma is a type of tumor that develops in the meninges, the protective membranes that cover the brain and the spinal cord. Most meningiomas are non-aggressive, or benign, although up to 5 percent are aggressive, or malignant. Benign meningiomas are slow-growing and do not invade surrounding tissue or spread to other parts of the body, but they often require surgery, because they compress adjacent brain tissue as they grow. Meningiomas fortunately carry an excellent prognosis--complete recovery usually occurs within a few months.
Frontal Lobe Meningioma
Meningiomas originate from cancer cells located in the middle layer of the meninges. They attach to the outermost layer and normally continue to grow inward, though they can also grow outward, causing the skull to thicken. Frontal lobe meningiomas are tumors on the outer membrane layer that compress the frontal lobe, an area of the brain that is located anterior to, or in front of, the cerebral hemispheres. The most common type of meningiomas to cause pressure to the frontal lobe are olfactory groove meningiomas. They occur in the midline under the frontal lobe in the area called "the olfactory groove."
Frontal lobe meningiomas can cause headaches, seizures, vision loss, inflammation of the optic nerve, an impaired sense of smell, memory loss, impaired judgment, reduced mental capacity and personality changes that may be mistaken for depression. In rare cases, frontal lobe meningiomas can lead to paralysis in one side of the body.
Most frontal lobe meningiomas can be surgically removed through the nose or through an eyebrow craniotopy. In the latter case, the surgeon enters the brain through a small opening in the skull at the eyebrows. The patient's own bone is used to cover the opening after the procedure. The goal of the operation is to completely remove the meningioma, including the tissue that fastens it to the outer membrane layer. In 20-25 percent of cases, however, the meningioma cannot be fully removed. Radiation is then used to prevent further growth.
After the operation, most patients will be transferred to in intensive care unit and will stay there for at least one night. Headache, dizzy spells, confusion and memory loss are common. Swelling from surgery or radiation can furthermore produce headaches, vomiting, poor balance and coordination, and personality changes. These symptoms usually disappear in a matter of weeks or months. If the tumor has caused paralysis, physical therapy may be required to regain mobility.
In some cases, brain tumors and their treatment can cause permanent brain damage. However, even with permanent damage it is possible to regain functionality. Neurologists used to think the brain was wired after the first few years of life. But research has shown that our brains are significantly more malleable than we thought. Norman Doidge, a psychiatrist from the University of Toronto and the author of the New York Times bestseller "The Brain that Changes Itself," says that with hard work we can force the brain to rewire itself. But we have the best chance of full recovery before the brain creates its own new "stubborn habits," Doidge adds.