Neoplastic Meningitis

What is Neoplastic Meningitis?

Neoplastic meningitis (NM) is a condition in which cancer cells spread into the meninges, or membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Doctors at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia are experts in the treatment of this and other types of brain tumors.

NM occurs in about 5% of all cancer patients. It is the third most common central nervous system spot for cancer to spread.

Often, NM (sometimes referred to as Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis) is associated with cancer that has spread from tumors elsewhere in the body. It is difficult to treat because chemotherapy drugs injected intravenously (into a vein) often do not reach high enough concentrations in the meninges to be effective. As a result, chemotherapy for neoplastic meningitis is often given intrathecally, injected into the fluid-filled space between the meninges.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Symptoms of this type of brain tumor include pain, headaches, mental status decline, loss of sensation in the face or elsewhere on the body or difficulties with vision, hearing, or swallowing, among others.

NM is typically diagnosed using a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Treatment may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy delivered directly to the spinal fluid, or a combination of both.

For more information about treatment for brain tumors and other neurological cancers at Fox Chase Cancer Center or to make an appointment, call 1-888-FOX CHASE (1-888-369-2427).

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