Invited Review

Journal of Neuro-Oncology

, Volume 99, Issue 3, pp 307-314

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Epidemiology and etiology of meningioma

  • Joseph WiemelsAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California San Francisco Email author 
  • , Margaret WrenschAffiliated withDepartment of Neurological Surgery, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California San Francisco
  • , Elizabeth B. ClausAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of MedicineBrigham and Women’s Hospital


Although most meningiomas are encapsulated and benign tumors with limited numbers of genetic aberrations, their intracranial location often leads to serious and potentially lethal consequences. They are the most frequently diagnosed primary brain tumor accounting for 33.8% of all primary brain and central nervous system tumors reported in the United States between 2002 and 2006. Inherited susceptibility to meningioma is suggested both by family history and candidate gene studies in DNA repair genes. People with certain mutations in the neurofibromatosis gene (NF2) have a very substantial increased risk for meningioma. High dose ionizing radiation exposure is an established risk factor for meningioma, and lower doses may also increase risk, but which types and doses are controversial or understudied. Because women are twice as likely as men to develop meningiomas and these tumors harbor hormone receptors, an etiologic role for hormones (both endogenous and exogenous) has been hypothesized. The extent to which immunologic factors influence meningioma etiology has been largely unexplored. Growing emphasis on brain tumor research coupled with the advent of new genetic and molecular epidemiologic tools in genetic and molecular epidemiology promise hope for advancing knowledge about the causes of intra-cranial meningioma. In this review, we highlight current knowledge about meningioma epidemiology and etiology and suggest future research directions.


Meningioma Epidemiology Etiology Risk factor Ionizing radiation Hormones