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Baylor Scott & White Neuro-Oncology Associates

What Is Schwannoma?

Schwannomas are tumors of the tissue that covers the nerves and are usually noncancerous, or benign; these tumors develop from a type of cell called a Schwann cell. Even though schwannomas can occur in any nerve in the body, the most common areas include the nerves of the head and neck and those involved with moving the arms and legs. These tumors are usually slow-growing.

What Are The Symptoms Of Schwannoma?

Common signs and symptoms include:

  • A slow-growing mass and an electric-like shock when affected area is touched
  • One-sided hearing loss and buzzing or ringing in the ear
  • Dizziness, although it is less common
  • Facial paralysis if the tumor affects the facial nerve
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Impaired eye movement
  • Taste disturbances
  • Unsteadiness

What Causes Schwannoma Tumors?

As with many tumors, the exact cause of Schwannoma is unknown. These tumors can sometimes occur in people with certain disorders including some types of neurofibromatosis; in these cases, affected people have multiple tumors that are due to mutations in a gene.

What Are The Treatments For Schwannoma?

The best treatment options for schwannoma depends on several factors including the size and location of the tumor, whether the tumor is benign or malignant, and your age and overall health. Following surgery or treatment, regular follow-ups with physical exams and imaging with your physician is recommended since there is a chance that the tumor may return.

  • Surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible.
  • Radiosurgery (stereotactic radiosurgery) or gamma knife treatment; this uses one high dose of radiation sent right into the cancerous tissue and causes less damage to nearby tissues. It is not actually surgery, but like surgery; it is a one session treatment that removes the tumor.
  • Radiation; this is used for killing off tumor cells and limiting the growth of the tumor
  • Chemotherapy; this involves the use of medications that stop the growth of the tumor and can be given orally or through an IV.
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