Jun 212013
 

Image © Kristy Peet. Used under creative commons license: CC BY 2.0A third case report of a meningioma in a trans woman has just been published.

A meningioma is a tumor of the meninges, the tissues between the skull and the brain. Most meningiomas come from the arachnoid mater, through which the cerebrospinal fluid sluggishly flows. Meningiomas are mostly (90%) benign, meaning they are not cancerous and will not spread throughout the body. Current treatment is surgery to remove the tumor, with radiation available if surgery is not possible.

There is some thought that sex hormones are a factor in the growth of meningiomas. Women are more likely to develop a meningioma than men. Like some breast tumors, meningiomas have also been found to be sensitive to estrogen and/or progesterone. Sensitivity refers to the tumor cells having receptors for certain hormones, and responding to those hormones. In the case of some estrogen-sensitive breast cancers, the estrogen increases the growth of the tumor.

This case was in Australia. The patient had been on estrogen and an anti androgen (cyproterone acetate), and had had genital surgery years before. Her tumor was benign, though sensitive to progesterone and estrogen, and was surgically removed. Unusually, her tumor came back and was removed again. She underwent radiation treatment. She is reported to have chosen to stop hormones and has made a full recovery.

Whether hormone therapy influences the growth of meningiomas is unknown. So far, the data are mixed and there is no consensus in the medical community. The other two case reports continued hormone therapy with no recurrence of the tumor. To stay on the safe side, however, the authors recommend that hormone therapy be discontinued upon diagnosis of a meningioma. They also suggest that a history of meningioma may be a contraindication for starting hormone therapy.

All individuals, trans or cis, should seek medical advice if they have any neurological symptoms. This includes symptoms associated with meningiomas such as headaches, seizures, blurred vision, double vision, weakness in arms or legs, numbness, or speech problems.

This case report was published in International Journal of Transgenderism. The abstract is publicly available.

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  2 Responses to “Article Review: Recurrence and Progression of Meningioma in Male-to-Female Transgender Individuals During Exogenous Hormone Use”

  1. I was recently diagnosed with a meningioma which has subsequently been surgically removed. I was using hormones (only estrogen) for 7 years before. While I informed the doctors involved, they did not recommend that I stop. There is a larger body of evidence suggesting that women using HRT are subject to increased risk of Meningioma. Being older, and not expecting to transition, I have stopped using them.

    • Sounds like you might’ve had a rough time, Belinda. It also sounds like you made the right decision for you. Thank you for sharing your story! I hope you have no further problems, and I’m very glad you had understanding medical support. Best of luck to you. 🙂

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