Carcinomatous Meningitis

All About Carcinomatous Meningitis

Carcinomatous meningitis is a type of metastatic cancer. It can dangerously spread throughout the body. It affects the tissues in the brain and the spinal cord and can quickly enter the central nervous system. Cerebrospinal fluid covers leptomeninges and they are membranes that are found in the brain and on the spinal cord. When they are cancerous, they form small tumors. This type of cancer usually originates in another area of the body. But it can quickly spread to other areas of the body. A person suffering with Carcinomatous meningitis, only has a slight chance of recovery.

Different types of cancers that metastasize can be difficult to diagnose. Usually magnetic resonance imaging tests are done if a doctor suspects carcinomatous meningitis. But they only way to find out for sure is to extract cerebrospinal fluid from the brain and observe it under a microscope. This type of test is referred to as a lumbar puncture. A doctor may have to perform more than one of these tests to get a positive diagnosis.

Carcinomatous meningitis spreads throughout the body by way of the blood stream and blood circulation. There is always a primary tumor and the smaller tumors break off and enter the blood stream. These tumors attach themselves to the leptomeninges, acting like seeds. These smaller seed type tumors can attach themselves to almost any tissue or organ and begin to grow. There are a few common cancers that metastasize in this way.

Leukemia, lymphoma, breast and lung cancers and gastrointestinal cancers can all be linked to carcinomatous meningitis. Some of the symptoms of this disease are headaches, confusion, loss of feeling in the face and mental disabilities. Severe pain can be felt in the head because of too much fluid on the brain. People who suffer with this disease also have problems with simple functions like speaking, eating or swallowing.

Oddly enough, we are seeing more cases of this disease. Because cancer patients are receiving better care and living for a longer time, they are exposed to this type of meningitis. The extra time gives the cancer a chance to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body and to the central nervous system. People who get these tiny tumors in the leptomeninges, can often get more brain tumors.

There is no cure for carcinomatous meningitis. But there are treatments available that can slow down the disease considerably. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments are used to battle the initial tumor and to destroy the cancer cells. Even if all of these cells are not eradicated, they can be destroyed to the point that they cannot reproduce themselves or spread anymore. When a doctor is doing a lumbar procedure he can also inject cancer killing drugs directly into the skull. This does help with killing the offending tumors but it can also kill the normal cells.

This disease is considered an advanced form of cancer. Although there are many positive treatments and medications to help with this condition, the prognosis is always the same. It will eventually destroy the central nervous system completely and cause death.


The good news is, people who have cancers are living for a longer period of time. This can be because of new and improved chemo and radiation treatments and from alternative medicines. Patients have been known to get relief from pain and other symptoms by incorporating a diet rich with vitamins and minerals. Yoga and meditation can also help with pain management and discomforts.

With all cancers, an immediate diagnosis is the best way to avoid getting carcinomatous meningitis. Since it is considered to be an advanced form of cancer, early detection can stop cancer cells from spreading throughout the body.