Neurofibromatosis and schwannomatosis have no recognized treatments or cures. Growths can be surgically removed or decreased using radiation treatment in some circumstances. Surgery in these locations may result in further nerve damage and neurological disorders. Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells without harming surrounding healthy tissue. It may be used as single treatment or in combination with other therapies for neurofibromas, schwannomas, and meningiomas.
Radiation therapy is usually not recommended for children because of possible side effects including damage to the brain, nerves, and eyes. However, adult patients may be given a trial course of radiation therapy if there are no other options. Neurofibromas that cause severe pain or interfere with breathing may require surgery or radiation therapy immediately after diagnosis. A physician experienced in treating diseases of the nervous system should review all medical records with you before any treatment decisions are made.
You should discuss potential complications with your doctor if you or your child undergoes radiation therapy. These include damage to normal tissues around the tumor site (such as the eye), damage to the spinal cord, shortness of breath, pain, depression, anxiety, changes in mood, confusion, loss of memory, problems with concentration, sleep disturbances, and changes in sexual function.
When a neurofibroma forms, it does not go away on its own and frequently grows in size over time. As a result, surgery is the only technique to remove this tumor from the body. Neurofibromas are routinely removed as an outpatient operation under local anaesthetic. The surgeon makes several small cuts in the skin and then removes the mass with some of the surrounding tissue.
A large neurofibroma can cause problems such as weakness or paralysis of the arm or leg, difficulty breathing, or poor vision. It may also interfere with how you feel or how your organs function. You should discuss any concerns you have with your doctor so they can help determine if the neurofibroma needs to be removed and, if so, what procedure will be best for you.
Neurofibromas can grow back even after they've been completely removed. For this reason, doctors often recommend that patients receive regular follow-up examinations to make sure the tumors do not return.
Neurofibromas can be removed in a variety of methods. Typically, a neurofibroma is "excised," or "cut out," using a scalpel or other instrument, or it is "destroyed" with electrosurgery. Tumors can also be eradicated (ablated) by desiccation (dehydration or drying) or electrosurgery. In some cases, neurofibromas may simply disappear on their own after causing pain for many years.
People vary in how they react to neurofibromas. Some people are able to go through life without ever feeling the effects of these tumors while others suffer from extreme discomfort even after receiving surgery to remove them. The only way to know if your treatment will help relieve your symptoms is to discuss it with your doctor. You may want to think about doing this even if you don't feel like you need to take action now. It's best to be informed about any potential side effects of various treatments so that you can make an intelligent decision.
Treating neurofibromas involves a multidisciplinary approach that may include medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and therapists. Neurofibromas are typically treated with medications to reduce their size and prevent them from growing back too quickly. These drugs include cyclosporine, corticosteroids, and vinca alkaloids. In some cases, radiation may be used to destroy residual tumor cells following surgery or chemotherapy. Physical therapy can help people with nerve damage regain use of their muscles.
Neurofibromatosis is not a single medical illness, but rather three distinct disorders characterized by the growth of tumors in the brain, spinal cord, and nerves that transmit signals between the brain and spinal cord and the rest of the body. These tumors are called neurofibers. There are two main types of neurofibers: neurofibrosarcomas and neurofibroma. Neurofibrosarcoma is a malignant tumor that develops from connective tissue (muscle, fat, or bone) surrounding a nerve or from soft tissue such as muscle or skin. It is most common among people with NF1. The second type, neurofibroma, is a benign tumor that develops from nerve cells (schwann cells), their supporting tissue (collagen and elastin fibers), and blood vessels. Neurofibromas can grow large enough to press on major blood vessels and cause problems for those tissues they protect. However, most neurofibromas are small and not cause any symptoms.
People with neurofibromatosis have an increased risk of developing other diseases, especially cancer. Cancer is the most serious long-term complication for individuals with this condition. The most common cancers associated with neurofibromatosis are: breast cancer for women and schwannoma of the heart for men.