Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Can a meningioma become cancerous?

Answered by: Clinton J. Baird, MD
Medical Director of Neurosurgery Services & Neurosurgeon

Dr. Baird explains meningioma as a benign brain tumor or mass that grows abnormally in the brain. He says the vast majority of meningioma tumors are benign and will not develop cancerous characteristics. Dr. Baird does caution that even though meningioma tumors are typically benign, they can still cause a number of problems because of their location in the brain.

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Clinton Baird: Meningiomas are a relatively common form of a brain tumor, they use the word tumor in this setting because most meningiomas are not cancer, they are benign brain tumors. And when many masses that are in the brain that are an abnormal gross of cells will be called tumors, and even cancers can be called tumors, but typically we do make a distinction in the terminology between using the word tumor and using the word cancer. But meningiomas, the vast majority, are benign tumors, and will remain benign tumors, and very rarely will they transform or become a malignant cancer, and with the same rarity they will present initially as a malignant cancer. But far and away, they are benign tumors at the beginning and will remain a benign tumor. Meningiomas can be tricky in some sense though, because in being a brain tumor they can be benign and behave as a benign tumor in the way it grows, but they can sometimes be tricky to deal with and cause a lot of problems because they are in the brain. And depending on where they might be found in the brain, the natural history of it just being in the brain itself will cause more troubles than what you might think when you hear the word benign.