Maria Menounos has a benign tumor called a meningioma... what is that, anyway?

Sarah Toy

Meningiomas, tumors that arise from the thin coverings of the brain and spinal cord called the meninges, are the most common primary brain tumors — with about 27,000 new cases each year — according to the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States

E! News anchor and SiriusXM host Maria Menounos was one of those cases. Menounos told People magazine in a story published July 3 that she had a brain tumor and would be stepping down from her role at E!. It was a meningioma, she said, and she underwent surgery last month to remove the benign tumor.

Meningiomas are generally slow-growing, said Dr. Patrick Wen, the director of the Center for Neuro-Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, so they can get quite large before they cause noticeable symptoms. They are usually benign, he said, but they can still cause issues due to where they're located. 

Read more: 

Maria Menounos battles brain tumor, quits E! News

Menounos’ tumor was described as the size of a golf ball when it was removed. She told People she began experiencing her first symptoms in February, including lightheadedness and headaches.

“My speech had gotten slurred and I was having difficulty reading the teleprompter,” she said. 

Symptoms vary depending on the meningioma's location, said Dr. Shaan Raza, an assistant professor of neurosurgery and head and neck surgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. They can include seizures, headaches, vision changes, facial numbness and pain, mental status changes, weakness in the extremities and trouble with balance. 

"For someone who is otherwise healthy, it can be very frightening," Raza said. 

However, the prognosis is usually very good for people who have benign meningiomas, also called grade I meningiomas, according to Wen. Treatment is usually surgery followed by radiation therapy, and if the tumor is removed fully, the patient should have a normal life expectancy, he said. 

Menounos said her surgeon removed 99.9% of her tumor, and there is a 6-7% chance that it will return. She's OK with that, though, telling People: "I'll take those odds any day."   

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