Neurofibroma of the Head Diagnosis and Treatment in New Jersey
Neurofibroma is a term that refers to a specific type of nerve tumor growth that can occur anywhere in the body. Usually diagnosed in children and young adults, can form around nerves throughout the body and are usually benign, or noncancerous. Malignancy, however, is possible. Complications may also arise if tumors are large or cause pressure on the nerve. There are three types of medical conditions characterized by neurofibroma tumor growth. These are called Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1), Neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2), and Schwannomatosis (SWN). Genetic mutations are thought to cause these conditions.
When patients have certain symptoms or are diagnosed with a tumor in the head, a neurofibroma diagnosis could be evaluated by the team of medical professionals and award-winning neurosurgeons at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedic in New Jersey. They can explain any head tumor diagnosis in detail and help determine the most effective treatment options.
What Distinguishes Each Type of Neurofibroma of the Head?
When specific genetic mutations interfere with normal cellular protein production, the resulting effect may be the formation of tumors. Neurofibromas develop within the area surrounding nerve fibers called the nerve sheaths. As these tumors increase in size they can cause pain and prevent proper functioning of the nerves. Even the cranial nerves, which originate within the brain, and innervate the eyes, face, neck and accessory muscles, can form neurofibromas. Symptoms can result in the loss of hearing, vision, and facial pain.
- NF1: The most common of the three types, Neurofibromatosis 1 may be caused by an inherited gene. However, the condition may also stem from a spontaneous genetic mutation, which can then be passed on to future generations. There is a 50% chance of a child inheriting this abnormal gene from the parent. The symptoms are often noticeable at birth. By age 10, most children have been diagnosed. The number of tumors and symptoms are usually mild but can become severe.
- NF2: Less common than NF1, patients similarly inherit this abnormal gene in about half of diagnoses. Characterized by slow-growing tumors, patients may seek a medical diagnosis if they are experiencing hearing loss or problems with vision. There is also a higher rate of meningioma of the brain in patients with NF2.
- Schwannomatosis: Least common of the three types of neurofibromatosis, patients over the age of 20 may start to experience symptoms, due to the slow-growing nature of these tumors.
What Symptoms are Related to Neurofibroma of the Head?
Patients experience a wide variety of symptoms related to these conditions. Some are noticeable in childhood, and others may present later in life. Contact the medical team at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics if experiencing any of these signs or symptoms.
Symptoms Related to NF1
- Spots on the skin: These spots are flat, light brown, commonplace, usually harmless, and often seen at birth, more than six spots can be related to NF1.
- Pea-sized bumps on or under the skin: These soft benign tumors may involve nerves or cause the face to be disfigured.
- Freckling: Usually appearing by age 5, these small spots appear in the armpits and groin.
- Bumps on eye iris: Usually harmless and not easily detected, these small bumps don’t typically affect vision.
- Learning disabilities: Mild experiences of speech delay, ADHD disorders, and impaired thinking in children may be symptoms associated with NF1.
- Tumor on optic nerve: This symptom is seen in children up to age 3, but rarely in older children or adults.
- Bone deformities: This symptom may be seen in the eye socket area of the face.
- Scoliosis: Curvature of the spine can be a sign of NF1.
- Abnormal head size or height: Shorter stature and large circumference of the head may indicate NF1.
Symptoms Related to NF2
- Gradual hearing loss and ringing in the ears: These symptoms are experienced due to slow-growing tumors in the ears and are known as acoustic neuromas.
- Poor balance and headaches: These symptoms are also related to tumors that affect nerves in the ears.
- Seizures and pain: Tumor growth that affects cranial and peripheral nerves may result in these symptoms.
- Vision loss and cataracts: Tumor growth that affects the optic nerves may result in vision issues.
- Meningiomas: Patients with NF2 typically experience a higher rate of these tumors that can form in areas that surround the brain and spinal cord.
- Ependymoma: Most often seen in young children, these tumors form in the brain or spinal cord and have associated symptoms of headaches and seizures.
Symptoms Related to Schwannomatosis (SWN)
- Chronic pain: Throughout the body, chronic pain may be related to SWN.
- Numbness in extremities: Tingling and weakness are most often experienced in the fingers and toes.
- Loss of muscle: This may be due to tumors affecting nerve function.
Diagnosis and Treatments for Neurofibroma of the Head
The medical team at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics will examine family medical history and any signs or symptoms related to these conditions, but genetic testing is likely required for diagnosing these genetic disorders. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the head, brain, and spinal cord may also be necessary to properly assess the placement and growth of tumors. Electromyography, or EMG, evaluates the electrical pathways in the nerves. In cases where biopsies are possible, a pathologist can determine whether the tumor is classified as neurofibroma.
Regular surveillance, along with the management of complications, can yield early detection and treatment. Treatments for these conditions depend on the type of neurofibromatosis and the symptoms experienced by the patient. Some drugs are available to help stop the growth of tumor cells. Other treatments include:
- Chemotherapy for brain tumors
- Surgery to reduce pressure on nerves or other bodily structures
- Medications for headaches and learning disabilities
- Annual evaluations and imaging
- Cochlear implant to boost hearing function
Treatment for Neurofibroma at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics
While diagnosing and treating neurofibroma of the head may seem complicated, the expert medical team at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics in New Jersey has the training and experience to help patients and their families manage these genetic disorders, working towards the best outcomes possible. Early detection is key, as many of these symptoms present during childhood, or in young adults.
The compassionate specialists at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics have a conservative approach to evaluating treatment options, are aware of the latest research, and utilize state-of-the-art technology. For more information about treatments for neurofibroma of the head in New Jersey, contact CNSO today.