3 percent of individuals with progressive curvature may eventually experience severe problems that can include scoliosis and back pain, spinal problems, and nerve compression causing numbness, weakness, and leg pain.
A nerve tumor called neurofibroma results in soft lumps on or under the skin. In addition, these tumors can grow on any main or minor nerve all over the body. Although a neurofibroma often starts off being benign (non-cancerous), it has the potential to progress to cancer over time.
What is a Neurofibroma?
Your nerve cells may grow into benign tumors called neurofibromas. This tumor indicates a category of uncommon genetic diseases known as neurofibromatosis. These tumors can develop on the surface, beneath the skin, or farther into the bodies of people with neurofibromatosis. Fortunately, most of these tumors don’t have any negative health effects. Although, some bigger neurofibromas can damage several nerves and result in major health problems. In conclusion, surgery is the primary medical treatment for neurofibromas.
Who is Impacted by Neurofibromas?
A person is born with a neurofibroma, but it can take years for the tumor to appear. Consequently, these tumors usually become prominent during puberty. One out of about 3,000 has neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is usually diagnosed by age 10. Finally, about 25% of these children develop tumors large enough to cause serious medical problems.
What are Neurofibroma Symptoms?
Depending on the kind, size, and location of the tumor, neurofibroma symptoms might vary. Some individuals with these tumors may never have symptoms. However, neurofibromas can occasionally result in significant medical conditions including blindness or paralysis. Following are details on several neurofibroma kinds and associated symptoms:
The term “cutaneous neurofibromas” refers to localized tumors. Small bumps can develop anywhere on a person’s body for people aged 20 to 40. Furthermore, when you push on neurofibromas, they may itch and indicate pain.
This is a different kind of cutaneous neurofibroma. For instance, this tumor typically manifests as a raised region of thicker skin that tingles or feels numb to the touch on people’s heads and necks.
These neurofibromas develop on clusters of nerves. Children with Type 1 frequently have plexiform neurofibromas. These tumors can develop into quite huge lumps on children’s skin or under their skin as they age. Pressure on their spinal cord or peripheral nerves might cause symptoms including paralysis, weakness, or numbness. Also, some kids with plexiform neurofibromas experience scoliosis brought on by the tumors pushing against their spines.
What is Neurofibromatosis Type 1?
- About 1 in 3,300 babies are born with Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1). Other signs comprise:
- Café-au-lait spots: Large, progressively growing areas of skin that are light brown or coffee in color.
- The iris, the colorful portion of your child’s eye, may have benign growths.
- optic pathway gliomas, tumors of the visual nerve.
What Causes Neurofibromas?
Neurofibromas are a sign of neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1), which is brought on by mutations in the NF1 gene. The NF1 gene contains the information needed to produce the neurofibromin protein. Additionally, a tumor suppressor protein called neurofibromin often stops cells from developing or dividing too fast or uncontrolled. It accomplishes this by controlling a protein, a protein that promotes cell growth and division. The NF1 gene can stop preventing cell development when it is altered, allowing cells to proliferate unchecked and develop into tumors. If one parent carries the genetic mutation, then a person may inherit NF1. Finally, about 50% of NF1 patients don’t have any family members who have the condition.
Your chance of getting neurofibroma may rise as a result of the variables listed below:
- being between the ages of 20 and 40.
- Having both types 1 and 2 of the hereditary disease neurofibromatosis
- A family history of the condition is the main risk factor for neurofibromas. About half of those with NF1 and NF2 received the condition from a parent who had it. People with NF1 and NF2 who do not have afflicted relatives are more likely to have a novel gene mutation.
- Both NF1 and NF2 are autosomal dominant diseases, which means that there is a 50% probability that any kid of a parent with the ailment will inherit the genetic mutation.
- Schwannomatosis has an unclear hereditary pattern. At this time, 15% of people inherit schwannomatosis from a parent who has the condition.
To identify this condition, your oncologist may do one or more of the following tests:
Your doctor will do a thorough physical examination while also getting information about your medical history, current symptoms, and risk factors.
Computerized tomography (CT) scan
The size and position of the neurofibroma can be determined by your doctor using this sort of imaging test, which produces a 3D picture of the inside of the body.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
This type of imaging test uses a powerful magnet to make detailed pictures of the body. Doctors can examine these images closely to determine the size and location of the neurofibroma.
A doctor can keep track of most neurofibromas with routine physical examinations, imaging tests, and, if necessary, biopsies. If you have neurofibromatosis, it is advisable to talk with an NF specialist about the long-term management of your illness. Inform your doctor if Neurofibromas can change in color, size, texture, or quantity, as well as if they start to hurt. A part of your body experiences new numbness or weakness. Because they restrict movement, cause aesthetic problems, or develop in uncomfortable or vulnerable places, neurofibromas have an impact on your quality of life.
Your medical adviser can suggest that you go through an observation phase during which they check to see if a tumor is in a location that makes removal challenging or if it is tiny enough to not be an issue. Such an observation entails routine exams and research to carefully track the development of malignancies.
If a neurofibroma is causing discomfort or weakness, is expanding quickly, or is suspected of being cancerous, your doctor may advise surgical excision. Neurofibroma surgery may be challenging depending on the tumor’s position, size, and relationship to the underlying nerve. Your surgical team may face a number of difficulties as it makes preparations to remove the tumor. On the basis of your particular symptoms and concerns, your doctor will assist you in reviewing the risks and advantages of surgery.
Preserving Nerve Function
It is essential to seek advice from surgeons with experience in peripheral nerve surgery because it might be challenging to distinguish the neurofibroma from the nerve. They can suggest the best surgical procedures to remove the tumor, either whole or partially, while still protecting nerve function. One such method involves dissecting along tissue planes dividing the neurofibroma from the healthy nerve tissues while carefully identifying the components inside the nerve using the operating microscope. If the tumor is malignant, such as a malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor (MPNST) or another sarcoma (a neurofibroma that developed into cancer), it might be necessary to remove the portion of the nerve that contains cancer cells as well as some surrounding healthy tissue to stop the tumor from returning. To replace the severed nerve segment, a nerve graft repair may be carried out.
Control of Bleeding
Large neurofibromas, also known as plexiform tumors, are notoriously difficult to remove. They might have a large blood supply, which would make them bleed a lot during the operation. Before doing surgery to remove the tumor, your doctor may occasionally advise embolization, a method to stop the neurofibroma’s blood flow. Depending on where the tumor is, a surgical team made up of experts from several professions may work together to remove it safely.
Because neurofibromas can affect the skin, it may be necessary to remove a significant amount of skin containing the tumor. This can significantly affect how you look, particularly if the neurofibroma is on your head or face, which are both prominent areas. To maintain your appearance following neurofibroma excision, plastic surgeons at a multidisciplinary center may employ a number of procedures, such as skin flaps, skin grafts, and skin expansion. Because it preserves the scalp’s skin, the skin expansion approach can be very effective following the excision of a face or head tumor in preventing or reducing boldness.
What Negative Consequences Might Surgery for Neurofibroma Cause?
The adverse effects of neurofibroma surgery vary depending on the type of surgery. For instance, the negative effects of surgery to remove a tumor from your spine will be different than surgery to remove a tumor from your skin. If you intend to have neurofibroma surgery, inquire with your doctor about the potential adverse effects.
We’re here to help STOP THE PAIN
If you are an adult living with scoliosis or have a child with this condition and need a doctor who specializes in orthopedic surgery,
call the Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute at 214-556-0555 to make an appointment today.