Woman’s Meningioma Symptoms Are Mistaken For The Menopause

Gamma Knife surgery - Woman Experiencing Hot Flush From Menopause

A woman who needed surgery to remove a benign meningioma initially had her symptoms dismissed by doctors as being the effects of the  menopause. The Argus reports that Karen Griffiths from Eastbourne first visited her GP when she began to suffer from tinnitus in one ear during 2018.

Karen, now aged 60, was also suffering from morning headaches and experienced problems with coordination, speech, and thinking and memory. These are all common symptoms of a meningioma. Other signs may include a loss of smell, changes in vision, seizures, and weakness in the arms and legs.

A memingnoma starts to develop in the layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord, known as the meninges. This type of tumour is mostly benign (non cancerous), and it is common, accounting for about 27% of all brain tumours diagnosed in England and Wales.

They are more common in women than men, possibly because of hormone levels. Some research suggests that there may be a link to breast cancer and possibly birth control or hormone replacement therapy. There may also be a link to obesity, and they are more common in older people.

Karen began to hear her heartbeat in one ear, a condition known as one-sided pulsatile tinnitus. However, she was told by her GP that this, and other symptoms such as headaches and brain fog, were down to the menopause. Eventually, the tinnitus grew so loud that Karen was referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist, who sent her for an MRI scan.

The scan revealed that Karen had a large meningioma that was pressing on a major nerve in her brain, causing the symptoms.

She told the Argus: “I was suffering with symptoms for over three years and it gradually got worse. Alongside that I was going through menopause and it is very well known that it can create headaches, brain fog and difficulty concentrating.”

She added: “One of the key things that got missed was that I was having headaches in the morning when I woke up. The one-sider pulsatile tinnitus got worse and worse but I was told not to worry about it. In my experience, they all too readily disregard them and blame them on something else instead.”

“My symptoms were disregarded for a long time, despite things getting steadily worse. I ended up feeling like a time waster. Looking back, it was quite dangerous.”

Karen had surgery to partially remove the tumour in March 2022. However, due to its location, some of the tumour had to be left in place. This means that she now has to regularly attend MRI scans to check that it is not growing in size.

Meanwhile, Karen reports that her speech, memory and balance are gradually improving, and she hopes to return to her job in insurance shortly.

For more information about meningioma treatment and Gamma Knife surgery, please contact Mr Patrick Grover of Amethyst Radiotherapy.