Singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow revealed to concert-goers this week that she has a brain tumor called a meningioma. The 50-year-old Grammy-award winning musician also addressed fans on her Facebook page.
“Hey everyone - please don't worry about my 'brain tumor', it's a non-cancerous growth. I know some folks can have problems with this kind of thing, but I want to assure everyone I'm OK.”
Meningiomas are the most common type of benign brain tumors, accounting for about 27 percent of all primary brain tumors and more than 30 percent of primary brain tumors affecting the central nervous system, according to American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AARS), a professional group.
The slow-growing tumors are three times more common in females than males and typically affect people between the ages of 40 and 70.
Meningiomas grow from the lining of the brain and inside the skull. Although most of them are benign — and almost never spread beyond the head—they are considered less severe than those occurring within the brain itself. About 1 percent to 2 percent are malignant and tend to grow back despite surgery and radiation.
Some patients have surgery to relieve or avoid complications of these non-malignant growths, but many don’t need intervention. In May 2011, actress Mary Tyler Moore, 74, underwent elective surgery to remove a similar tumor.
Exposure to ionizing radiation, especially high doses, has been found to be associated with a higher incidence of brain tumors, in particular, meningiomas, though the literature isn’t clear that it actually causes the tumors.
Lower doses of radiation, such as having recurrent full mouth dental X-rays called radiographs, could be linked to meningiomas too, according to a Yale University study.
Numerous studies suggest a positive association between meningiomas and the hormones estrogen, progesterone and androgen, which may account for the higher number of diagnoses among women.
Research also suggests some connection between breast cancer and meningiomas. Crow was treated for breast cancer in 2006, but Dr. Rick Madhok, a neurosurgeon at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute of the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Manhasset, N.Y., told CBS News the two conditions were “likely unrelated.”
Experts say women and men, including those diagnosed with breast cancer, should not be overly concerned. The risk of developing a meningioma is relatively low among the general population and doctors will have already evaluated people with breast cancer.
In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Crow said she was experiencing memory problems — she forgot lyrics to "Soak Up the Sun" while on stage — which prompted her trip to the doctor.
"I worried about my memory so much that I went and got an MRI. And I found out I have a brain tumor," Crow told the paper.
Crow says she isn’t worried about the tumor and will likely watch it for any changes before considering surgery.
Lynette Summerill is an award-winning writer and Scuba enthusiast living in San Diego, CA with her husband and two beach loving dogs. In addition to writing about cancer-related issues for EmpowHER, her work has been seen in newspapers and magazines around the world.
Patient Information: Meningiomas. American Association of of Neurological Surgeons. October 2007. Accessed online June 6, 2012 at:
Sheryl Crow's brain tumor: What is a meningioma?” CBS News Healthpop. Ryan Jaslow. 6 June 6, 2012.
”Cheryl Crow has reason to forget.” Las Vegas Review-Journal. Doug Elfman. June 5, 2012.
Facts about Meningiomas. Brigham and Women’s Hospital. February 2012. Accessed June 6, 2012 at: http://www.brighamandwomens.org/departments_and_services/neurosurgery/meningioma/meningiomafacts.aspx
Reviewed June 7, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith