Meningiomas — tumors that arise from the lining of the brain and spinal cord — have recently been in the news with celebrities Kate Walsh and Maria Menounos sharing their initial shock upon diagnosis and their experiences with side effects such as memory loss, confusion and physical weakness months after surgery.
Although most meningiomas are non-malignant, a new Yale School of Public Health-led study published in Cancer reveals that many patients experience significantly reduced quality of life (QOL) in the year after surgery, highlighting the need to continue to support such patients as they recover.
In the study, Quality of Life After Surgery for Intracranial Meningioma, approximately 1700 patients diagnosed with meningioma were compared with a similar number of persons (matched by age, sex, race and residence) without meningioma. Study subjects were asked questions about their ability to perform their daily activities as well as asked about symptoms such as pain, seizure and weakness. In almost all categories, persons with meningioma reported a significantly lower QOL than did non-meningioma patients.
The study was organized by Dr. Elizabeth B. Claus, professor and director of medical research, Yale School of Public Health, as well as an attending neurosurgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Claus said the study confirms what she has observed in her clinical practice.
“Although the good news is the majority of meningioma patients do very well after surgery, changes in neurologic function seen prior to surgery can persist for a time even after removal of the meningioma,” she said. “It is important to make patients aware that recuperation may take months or even years. Patients may appear physically well yet be experiencing difficulty with concentration, memory, or multi-tasking, all of which may affect one’s ability to work, drive or take care of oneself or family.”
Yale School of Public Health researchers Dr. Luke Benz and Dr. Joshua Warren collaborated on this study with researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the University of California at San Francisco, the University of Virginia and Baylor College of Medicine.