Causes and Risk Factors of Meningioma

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The exact cause of meningioma, the most common brain tumor, is unknown. Mutations (changes to genes) are one of the main causes of cancer and certain genetic conditions may increase the risk of developing meningioma.

This article will explain more about the causes and risk factors of getting a meningioma.

Surgeons looking at MRI brain scans


Common Causes  

Although researchers are still studying the exact cause of a meningioma, they know that mutations cause cells to grow out of control and form a tumor. In meningiomas, the tumor starts in the meninges, which are membranes (layers of tissues) that surround the spinal cord and brain.


Genetics may affect your chances of having meningioma. It may be possible for you to inherit mutations that cause this tumor. Researchers are still exploring the mutations seen in meningioma tumors.

Risk Factors

There are genetic conditions that increase your risk of brain tumors. You are more likely to get a meningioma if you have:

  • Monosomy 22: This is a rare disorder that causes the deletion of all or part of chromosome 22. 
  • Neurofibromatosis type 2: This inherited disorder affects the nervous system and causes tumors to develop on nerves.
  • Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome: This rare disorder causes tumors to grow in many organs.
  • Turcot syndrome: This rare disorder causes growths to develop in the colon and rectum in addition to tumors in the brain.
  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome: This rare disorder increases the risk of developing a meningioma, including multiple meningiomas.

Other risk factors for meningiomas include:

  • Exposure to high levels of radiation: Survivors of the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, during World War II, people who underwent radiation therapy used to treat brain cancer, and people treated with radiation in childhood for tinea capitis (scalp ringworm) have an increased risk of brain tumor.
  • Sex: Females are more likely to have a meningioma than males. Meningioma tumors often have sex hormone receptors, which may factor into the difference in risk.
  • Other factors: A study found that low physical activity, increased body mass index (BMI, an indication of being overweight or obese), taller height, and history of uterine fibroids can raise the risk in older women.


Meningioma is a type of tumor that affects the brain and spinal cord. Mutations cause changes to cells and make them grow out of control, and they can form tumors, including meningiomas. Genetics and other risk factors may play a role in causing this type of tumor.

A Word From Verywell

Determining the exact cause of your meningioma is difficult and often not possible. It is important to remember that you cannot control all risk factors for brain tumors, so you should not blame yourself for having a meningioma. In addition, researchers are still trying to figure out the role of genetics in the developiment of this type of tumor. 

If you have a meningioma, consider joining in-person or virtual brain tumor support groups. There are many options for groups, so you have a variety to choose from and connect with others who are dealing with cancer. Ask your doctor about local support groups if you are struggling to find one. Many hospitals have started groups for patients and their loved ones.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can meningiomas return?

    Yes, it is possible for meningiomas to return after treatment. This may happen even if the original tumor was removed completely. Sometimes the meningioma returns and forms in the same spot as the original tumor.

  • Can you pass down meningioma to your children?

    Although it is possible that some genetic mutations that cause meningiomas can be inherited, researchers are still studying this. If you have a meningioma, it does not guarantee that your children or grandchildren will have it. However, certain inherited genetic conditions increase the risk of developing a meningioma.

  • What can you do to lower the risk of having meningioma?

    Researchers do not know if it is possible to prevent meningioma. You may not be able to lower your risk of having a brain tumor, but you can make sure to have regular medical exams to catch problems sooner. Early diagnosis can lead to faster treatment and better outcomes.

  • Does using a cell phone increase the risk of having meningioma?

    At this time, there is no evidence that shows a link between cell phone use and risk for meningiomas. Researchers have not determined if the risk of having a meningioma increases by using a cell phone. They also have not found a connection with other wireless devices.

  • Does having a history of head injuries increase the risk of meningioma?

    Head injuries do not appear to increase the risk of meningiomas. The severity of a head injury also does not have an impact on the chances of having a brain tumor.

  • How common are meningiomas?

    Meningiomas are considered the most common type of brain tumor. An estimated 36% of all brain tumors in the United States are meningiomas. About 20,000 new meningiomas are diagnosed every year. Meningiomas can affect males and females and tend to be more common among older adults.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Cancer Institute. Meningioma diagnosis and treatment.

  2. National Brain Tumor Society. Meningioma tumors.

  3. MedlinePlus. Brain tumor - primary - adults.

  4. Yuzawa S, Nishihara H, Tanaka S. Genetic landscape of meningiomaBrain Tumor Pathol. 2016;33(4):237-247. doi:10.1007/s10014-016-0271-7

  5. Hong CS, Erson-Omay EZ, Moliterno J. Multiple meningiomas arising within the same hemisphere associated with Li-Fraumeni syndromeSurg Neurol Int. 2021;12:99. doi:10.25259/SNI_125_2019

  6. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Meningiomas.

  7. Johnson DR, Olson JE, Vierkant RA, et al. Risk factors for meningioma in postmenopausal women: results from the Iowa Women's Health StudyNeuro Oncol. 2011;13(9):1011-1019. doi:10.1093/neuonc/nor081

  8. Kerr K, Qualmann K, Esquenazi Y, Hagan J, Kim DH. Familial syndromes involving meningiomas provide mechanistic insight into sporadic diseaseNeurosurgery. 2018;83(6):1107-1118. doi:10.1093/neuros/nyy121

By Lana Bandoim
Lana Bandoim is a science writer and editor with more than a decade of experience covering complex health topics.