Approximately 95% of spinal meningiomas are noncancerous (benign), and they generally grow very slowly. Cancerous (malignant) spinal tumors usually arise from another cancer – like lung or breast cancer – that has spread from other locations in the body.
Spinal meningiomas are most common between the ages of 50 and 70. (They’re rarely found in children and are most always associated with a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis type 2.) Women are at higher risk than men for developing spinal meningiomas, as are people who’ve been exposed to ionizing radiation. Researchers are also investigating whether there may be hormonal risk factors as well.
Symptoms generally don’t occur unless your tumor has begun to press on your spinal cord. Spinal meningioma symptoms may include:
- Difficulty walking or maintaining balance
- Pain at the tumor site
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Loss of sensation, vision, hearing, smell and taste
- Neurological problems, including changes in personality