Sheryl Crow's Brain Tumor and Breast Cancer: Are They Related?

(Image credit: Singer Sheryl Crow via Shutterstock)

The singer Sheryl Crow's recent diagnosis of a brain tumor is not likely related to her previous battle with breast cancer, experts say.

Yesterday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the singer was diagnosed with a begin brain tumor in November after experiencing symptoms of memory loss. The type of tumor is called a meningioma, according to CNN.

Meningiomas are typically not linked to breast cancer — either the disease or the treatment for it — said Dr. Rick Madhok, a neurosurgeon at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute in Manhasset, N.Y. However, both conditions are thought to be influenced by female hormones, Madhok said.

As with breast cancer, advances in technology are making the detection of meningiomas more common.

"We're starting to pick both up more and more frequently," Madhok said. Meningiomas are detected with an MRI or CT scan.

Currently, about 10,000 people a year are diagnosed with meningiomas in the United States, and they account for about a third of all brain tumors, Madhok said. Not everyone experiences symptoms, and autopsies show about 2 percent of people have lived and died with these tumors without knowing they were there, Madhok said.

Although they're called "brain tumors," meningiomas actually form in the lining of the brain, not the brain itself. About 90 percent are benign, meaning they are not cancerous, or likely to spread to other sites within the body, Madhok said.

Symptoms of meningiomas include headaches, memory loss, hearing loss, seizures, changes in vision and weakness in the arms or legs, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Crow said that she experienced memory problems, including forgetting some of the lyrics to her hit "Soak up the Sun" while performing on stage, the Las Vegas newspaper reported.

The types of symptoms that people experience depend on where the tumor is in the brain, Madhok said. He noted that he hasn't examined Crow, and can't say whether her tumor is the source of her memory problems.

Risk factors for meningiomas include receiving radiation to the head and certain genetic conditions, but most arise in people without any particular risk factors, Madhok said. A recent study found people who receive frequent dental x-rays are at increased risk for the condition.

Patients with the condition have three options for treatment: keep an eye on the tumor to see if it grows, remove the tumor with surgery, or use a highly focused form of radiation known as radiosurgery, Madhok said.

The particular treatment chosen depends on the size and location of the tumor, and if it is causing symptoms. Ultimately, it's up to the doctor and the patient to decide what's best, Madhok said.

Typically, if a patient has symptoms and the tumor is easily accessible, it is removed with surgery, Madhok said.

Crow says she doesn't need surgery, but will have the tumor monitored, according to CNN.

Pass it on:  Sheryl Crow has been diagnosed with a meningioma, a type of brain tumor that is becoming more common due to better methods of detection.

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Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.