Despite the seemingly serious connotation behind the news of Sheryl Crow’s brain-tumor diagnosis, the fact that it is non-cancerous, or benign, should set fans’ worries at ease.
Crow’s rep confirmed that the singer/songwriter’s tumor, a meningioma, is not nearly as serious as it may sound.
“Half of us are walking around with [meningioma], but you don’t really know unless you happen to have an MRI,” the singer’s rep told E! News. “[Crow] has no symptoms and everything is fine. It was a random mention during a [recent] interview. It was not meant to alarm anyone. She is doing great and is healthy and happy.”
A meningioma is so named because it exists in the meninges, the layers surrounding the central nervous system. A meningioma is a tumor located in one of the fibrous layers that protect the brain and spinal cord. Many people have them without ever knowing it, as they are most frequently small and benign, causing no symptoms whatsoever.
According to Anders Cohen, chief of neurosurgery and spine surgery at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York, it is easy to live a normal life with this type of tumor.
“A lot of times, these things don’t become symptomatic in your lifetime. We find them more now because we are looking for them,” Cohen told USA Today. “Here in New York, there is an MRI machine on every corner. But if it’s not causing symptoms, we leave it alone. Or you could do surveillance for six months, and repeat the MRI. A lot of meningiomas don’t grow.”
When asked about the various treatment methods for the tumors, the neurosurgeon said options are limited.
“The vast majority have surgery. There is no chemotherapy, no drug option. Radiation can be used if they are very deep, if they are near the brainstem, if just getting to them is risky.”
Cohen also made sure to clarify the fact that although Crow survived breast cancer, the brain tumor is not at all related to her breast cancer or her treatment for it.
“Breast cancer doesn’t make you more susceptible to meningiomas. Some meningiomas are estrogen sensitive. They are usually very, very slow growing,” he said. “They may start out the size of a pinhead. When women hit menopause, they get these hormonal swings and the tumor may start growing.”
So in a nutshell, although the tumors can be malignant, they are treatable. Crow’s rep has not yet revealed the Grammy winner’s plans for treatment, just that she’s happy and healthy.