There are two types of acoustic neuroma: a sporadic form and a form associated with a syndrome called neurofibromatosis type II (NF2). NF2 is an inherited disorder characterized by the growth of noncancerous tumors in the nervous system. Acoustic neuromas are the most common of these tumors and often occur in both ears by age 30.
NF2 is a rare disorder. It accounts for only 5% of acoustic neuromas. This means the vast majority are the sporadic form. Doctors aren't certain what causes the sporadic form. One known risk factor for acoustic neuroma is exposure to high doses of radiation, especially to the head and neck.
There are few risk factors that can cause acoustic neuroma. The main risk factor is having a parent that has the rare genetic disorder Neurofibromatosis type 2. Another possible risk factor is childhood exposure to low radiation of the head and neck. Talk to your doctor if you feel you are at risk for acoustic neuroma.
The early symptoms of an acoustic neuroma are often subtle. Many people attribute the symptoms to normal changes of aging, so it may be a while before the condition is diagnosed.
The first symptom is usually a gradual loss of hearing in
one ear, often accompanied by ringing in the ear (tinnitus) or a
feeling of fullness in the ear. Less commonly, acoustic neuromas may cause
sudden hearing loss.
Other symptoms, which may occur over time, include:
It's important to see your doctor if you experience these symptoms. Symptoms like clumsiness and mental confusion can signal a serious problem that requires urgent treatment.
If you have symptoms, your doctor will perform physical test, neurological examination and a hearing test. Early diagnosis is extremely important. The doctor will require an MRI (magnetic resonance) or CT scans to diagnose tumors auditory nerve.
There are three main courses of treatment for acoustic neuroma:
Observation is also called watchful waiting. Because acoustic neuromas are not cancerous and grow slowly, immediate treatment may not be necessary. Often doctors monitor the tumor with periodic MRI scans and will suggest other treatment if the tumor grows a lot or causes serious symptoms.
Surgery for acoustic neuromas may involve removing all or part of the tumor.
There are three main surgical approaches for removing an acoustic neuroma:
Radiation therapy is recommended in some cases for acoustic neuromas. State-of-the-art delivery techniques make it possible to send high doses of radiation to the tumor while limiting expose and damage to surrounding tissue.
Radiation therapy for this condition is usually delivered in one of two ways:
Both of these are outpatient procedures, which means they don't require a hospital stay. They work by causing tumor cells to die. The tumor's growth may slow or stop or it may even shrink, but radiation doesn't completely remove the tumor.
Other types of radiation therapy have also been used. Your doctor will explain your options to you.
Selecting the right treatment depends on a number of factors, including:
You should note that complications could occur by removing the tumor. Because nerves controls hearing, balance, or facial nerve may also be cut during surgery. However, the living habits and lifestyles below will help you limit the progression of nerve tumors: