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 schwannoma is a tumor that grows from the Schwann cells in your peripheral nervous system or nerve roots. The majority of schwannomas are benign (noncancerous), however, occasionally they might be malignant (cancerous). During the transmission of nerve impulses, Schwann cells are helpful. In addition, to provide support and protection, they encircle peripheral nerves. The nerves in your peripheral nervous system are responsible for sending and receiving messages to and from the rest of your body from your spinal cord and brain. The nerve that links your brain to your inner ear is a frequent site for schwannomas (vestibular schwannoma).
Cancerous schwannomas typically damage the sciatic nerve in your leg, the brachial plexus in your arm, and the sacral plexus, a bundle of nerves in your lower back. Occasionally, neurilemmomas or neuromas are used to describe schwannomas. A soft tissue sarcoma is the name given to schwannomas if they are cancerous. There are a relatively small number of malignant schwannomas. Legs, the lower back, and the upper arms are where they typically manifest. Occasionally, they can also affect the nerves that run between your legs. Your intestines or bladder may hurt or feel uncomfortable at this point.
Who do Schwannomas Tumors Affect?
Between the ages of 50 and 60, schwannomas most often afflict persons. In kids, they are quite uncommon. When a person is otherwise healthy, schwannomas typically appear sporadically. Neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2), schwannomatosis, or Carney complex are a few examples of hereditary disorders that can result in schwannomas. A schwannoma is often many in individuals with several hereditary disorders. Schwannomas are quite uncommon. Each year in the United States, they afflict less than 200,000 people. Vestibular schwannomas account for around 60 percent of benign schwannomas (acoustic neuromas).
What do Schwannoma Tumors Feel Like?
Typically, schwannomas don’t show symptoms until they are large enough to push on the nearby nerves. The region that the damaged nerve controls may occasionally cause you discomfort. Other typical systems include:
- A skin-deep bump is visible.
- Piercing, throbbing, or searing pain.
- A tingling, pins and needles feeling
- Muscular tremor
- Nighttime neck or backache
These symptoms might affect your face, arms, legs, or torso, depending on where the schwannoma is located. As the tumor grows, your symptoms might alter. The nerve that connects your inner ear to your brain has several schwannomas. A vestibular schwannoma also called an acoustic neuroma, is what this is. Acoustic neuromas can also result in the following symptoms in addition to those mentioned above:
- Either one or both ears ringing
- Lack of balance and coordination
What Causes a Schwannoma?
In most cases, the cause of schwannoma is unknown. About 90% of cases are sporadic (incidental). Inherited disorders such as the Carney complex, neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2), and schwannomatosis can lead to schwannoma. Genetic studies indicate that the NF2 gene on chromosome 22 plays an important role in the development of schwannoma. People inherit a tendency to develop schwannoma from their parents and can pass the genetic condition on to their children.
Risk Factor of Schwannoma Tumors
Schwannoma has no recognized risk factors:
- Tumors can develop in people of any age or gender.
- Due to neurofibromatosis 2, women may occasionally be somewhat more likely than males to develop schwannoma.
- The likelihood that a parent will pass on schwannoma to their offspring is somewhat greater. Genetic risk factors are still being investigated, though.
Diagnosis of Schwannoma Tumors
Due to the symptoms of schwannomas being similar to those of many other illnesses, diagnosis is challenging. They also have a very sluggish rate of growth, so whatever symptoms they do have are typically hardly perceptible. Your doctor may inquire about your signs and symptoms, go over your medical history, and do a routine physical examination, as well as a neurological assessment to determine whether you have a schwannoma. Your doctor could offer one or more of these diagnostic tests if symptoms point to the possibility that you have a schwannoma or another kind of nerve tumor:
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
This scan creates a thorough, 3-D image of your nerves and surrounding tissue using a magnet and radio waves.
Computerized tomography (CT)
To take many pictures of your body, a CT scanner revolves around it. In order for your doctor to assess how your growth may be harming you, a computer utilizes the photos to create a comprehensive depiction of it.
In this test, a doctor inserts a small needle into a muscle so that an electromyograph records the muscle’s electrical activity when it tries to move it. Examination of nerve conduction. You may have this test taken with your EMG. It measures how quickly nerves transmit electrical signals to muscles.
If imaging tests reveal a nerve tumor, your doctor may take a tiny sample of cells (biopsy) from the tumor and examine them. You could require either local or general anesthesia for the biopsy, depending on the size and location of the tumor.
Your doctor could do a nerve biopsy if you have a disease like increasing peripheral neuropathy or swollen nerves that resemble nerve tumors. Depending on the magnitude of the tumor development, the course of therapy will start once the diagnosis has been made.
In order to search for any indicators of Schwannoma, the oncologist, a cancer expert, will ask about the patient’s whole medical history and evaluate all outward skin irritation. Treatment for schwannomas is based on the location of the abnormal growth, as well as if it hurts or is enlarging fast. Options for treatment include:
- Your doctor might advise keeping an eye on your condition over time. Regular checks and an MRI or CT scan every few months to monitor the tumor’s growth may be part of the observation.
- Because these are benign, slow-growing lesions, they are indicated for patients over the age of 70 with very small lesions and severe systemic or asymptomatic disease.
If the tumor is hurting or expanding rapidly, a skilled peripheral nerve surgeon can remove it. Under general anesthesia, surgery on schwannomas is performed. Some patients can leave the hospital the day after surgery, depending on the location of the tumor. Some individuals may require a one- or two-day hospital stay. It’s possible for a tumor to come back even after it has been successfully removed after surgery. Surgery may often remove schwannomas with minimal possibility of them coming back until they are big enough to obstruct nerves or surrounding structures or to disfigure a person. Schwannomas tend to be rather small, therefore standard surgery may be able to completely remove the tumor.
The surgeon exposes the nerve, isolates the schwannoma from the healthy nerve tissue using precise microsurgical methods, and then eliminates it. It is crucial to seek the advice of a skilled surgeon with experience in treating nerve tumors since some schwannoma surgical operations may need nerve restoration if the tumor cannot be removed without damaging the nerve. The nerve function may improve quickly following successful surgery for treatments on peripheral nerve schwannomas, but if the schwannoma damaged muscles, they could take longer to mend. Muscle dysfunction or weakness can occasionally last a lifetime. After surgery to remove a vestibular schwannoma, symptoms including facial paralysis, hearing loss, and headaches may last for weeks or even months before getting better.
Radiation therapy is used to control tumor growth and improve symptoms. Along with surgery, it may be utilized. Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) uses many precisely focused beams to destroy a tumor. If the tumor is near vital blood vessels or nerves, the doctor may recommend her SRS instead of surgery to avoid potential complications.
A method known as stereotactic body radiation treatment may be used to reduce harm to healthy tissue if the tumor is close to important nerves or blood arteries. With this method, medical professionals may accurately apply radiation to a tumor without cutting the skin. Therefore, only microsurgery, which is appropriate for medium- and large-sized tumors, can result in a full cure. A 12- to 24-hour stay in an intensive care unit is necessary after the treatment, along with continuous neurophysiological monitoring. It is possible to mix radiosurgery with microsurgery sometimes.
What is the Outlook for Schwannoma Tumors?
The prognosis for schwannoma relies on a number of variables, including:
- The location of the tumor.
- The tumor’s size.
- How much of the tumor was removed during surgery, if any?
- The tumor being benign or cancerous.
The outlook for schwannoma is often favorable. When a tumor is completely eliminated, it often doesn’t return (recur). The majority of schwannoma problems usually develop following tumor removal surgery. The following situations considerably increase the likelihood of postoperative complications:
- If the tumor is significant.
- When the tumor is deep in the interior of the body.
- If your ulnar nerve is the site of the tumor (one of the three main nerves in your arm).
What Possible Side Effects Might Schwannoma Tumors Cause?
Finally, by sticking to the treatment plan that you and your healthcare provider specifically created for you, you can reduce your chance of experiencing major consequences. Schwannoma complications include:
- Adverse consequences of schwannoma treatment
- Loss of function, most often hearing loss, in the afflicted area
- In the afflicted region, numbness
- The afflicted region is in pain.
- In the afflicted region, paralysis
- Cancer returning
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.