Carcinomatous meningitis is a cancer of the meninges—a covering of the brain—that has spread from a carcinoma such as those of the skin, breast or lung. It is an uncommon complication of cancer, but with the higher survival rates of certain solid systemic tumors, the incidence of this disease has been on the rise.
Symptoms of Carcinomatous Meningitis
Symptoms of carcinomatous meningitis include neurologic signs, often caused by encephalopathy:
and other symptoms:
How Is Carcinomatous Meningitis Diagnosed?
Along with a review of your medical history—carcinomatous meningitis generally spreads from a solid malignant tumor from another area of the body to the meninges—an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) with a contrast dye will be used to view images of your brain and spinal cord.
Examination of your cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), taken via a lumbar puncture, is used to determine if cancer cells are present. Often a second or even third CSF test is needed, because the cancer cells may still be present in your CSF—even if results come back as negative.
What Are the Treatments for Carcinomatous Meningitis?
At this time, treatments for carcinomatous meningitis are considered palliative and not curative. Instead treatments are to improve life expectancy, to prevent further neurologic deterioration and to control symptoms. The experienced neurosurgeons at Neurological Surgery, P.C. (NSPC) are committed to helping you find the best possible treatment plan for your brain cancer.
At NSPC, experienced neurosurgeons use image-guided stereotactic radiosurgery, such as Gamma Knife® or CyberKnife®, to treat various brain cancers such as carcinomatous meningitis. Radiotherapy precisely pinpoints tumors or other malignant growths, while preserving nearby healthy tissue. The treatment is bloodless and often completed in one session.
Ommaya Reservoir—is a small circular receptacle that is placed under the scalp (a quarter-sized hole is made in the skull) with an attached tube that drains into one of the ventricles of the brain where cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flows. An Ommaya reservoir allows your physician to:
take samples of CSF fluid easily,
introduce chemotherapy drugs directly to your CSF, a form of intrathecal therapy, and
if needed, inject pain-relieving drugs such as morphine.
NSPC is one of the New York City area’s premier private neurosurgical groups with physicians in specialties including interventional neuroradiology, neuro-oncology, pain management and critical care neurology. Our award-winning doctors are leaders in the NY region’s medical community and many have positions as chiefs of neurosurgery in tristate area hospitals. Speak with a cancer specialists at one of our Long Island or NY area offices to find your best treatment options.