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Vestibular Schwannoma is a benign tumor of the vestibular nerve. It is also known as acoustic neuroma. This nerve is responsible for transmitting sound and balance information from the inner ear to the brain. A vestibular schwannoma can grow slowly over many years and may not cause any symptoms.
Vestibular Schwannoma Treatment in Tucson, AZ
What is Vestibular Schwannoma ?
Vestibular schwannomas, also known as acoustic neuromas, are benign tumors that grow on the main (vestibular) nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain. These tumors are usually slow-growing and non-cancerous (benign). However, they can cause a variety of symptoms by pressing on nearby structures.
In some cases, vestibular schwannomas can become large enough to damage the brain. Treatment options for vestibular schwannomas vary depending on the size and location of the tumor, as well as the patient’s age and overall health. surgery is usually the recommended course of treatment for this condition. In some cases, radiation therapy may be recommended instead of or in addition to surgery.
Types of Vestibular Schwannoma
There are two types of Vestibular Schwannoma: Secondary metastatic Vestibular Schwannoma occurs when cancer spreads to the Vestibular Schwannoma from other parts of the body.
- Sporadic, unilateral acoustic neuromas. Only 5% of patients with unilateral acoustic neuromas have them on both sides of the body. They are caused by nonhereditary (unexplained) changes. Unilateral acoustic neuromas occasionally occur at any age, although they usually develop during the 30- to 60-year period.
- Genetic, bilateral acoustic neuromas. Only people with neurofibromatosis type 2, a mutation in chromosome 22 that affects the gene responsible for production of Schwann cells, develop acoustic neuromas on both sides of their body. These patients often have other schwannoma-like tumors elsewhere in their bodies as well, and treatment options for these tumors can vary from those used to treat unilateral tumors.
What are the symptoms of Vestibular Schwannoma ?
A Vestibular Schwannoma may be accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Sudden or gradual hearing loss can be attributed to sensorineural hearing loss.
- Tinnitus, characterized by ringing, roaring, buzzing or hissing noise in the ears or head.
- A feeling of fullness in the ear.
- When you are experiencing vertigo or the sensation that you’re spinning even though you’re still
- Unbalancedness or unsteadiness
- Facial weakness and numbness
How is Vestibular Schwannoma diagnosed?
A physical examination and further testing will be done to help your doctor determine whether or not you have Meniere’s disease. As part of the diagnosis, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and conduct a thorough physical exam. You’ll also undergo several hearing and balance tests and scans, including:
- To assess hearing ability, an audiogram should be performed.
- Electronystagmography is a test of both balance and eye movement that help doctors assess how well your nerves involved in vision and hearing are working.
- The auditory brainstem response test is a way to check if the hearing nerves are working properly and identify any issues with brainstem function.
- To find and determine the size of the tumor, MRI and CT scans are used.
There are four stages of Vestibular Schwannoma :
Acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma) is not staged using the traditional TNM and 4-stage approach because it is not technically a cancerous condition. The typical TNM and 4-stage method do not apply to acoustic neuroma staging since it is not classified as a cancerous disease.
The growth speed of a Schwannoma will differ depending on the type you have. A common symptom for most is slow growth, and it’s more frequent in those with a unilateral acoustic neuroma (which occurs in only one ear). This usually develops after age 30 but can show at any time after birth. This condition is inherited, meaning it’s passed down from parents to children genetically.
Acoustic neuroma is a rare, benign tumor of the auditory nerve that may cause hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing or hissing in the ears), and vertigo. To discover the source and detect acoustic neuroma, diagnostic procedures are used.
After your diagnosis, you’ll work with your doctor to discover more about your condition and develop a treatment strategy. Surgery, radiation therapy, or simply waiting and monitoring Schwannoma’s development are all options for treatment.
What are the treatments for Vestibular Schwannoma ?
Your doctor or other healthcare professional will talk to you about your treatment choices. The following factors will influence the type of therapy you undergo:
- The size and location of the tumor.
- How old you are and your current health status.
- The degree of damage to your hearing and balance nerves.
The following are treatment options:
: If the tumor is tiny, stable, and produces no symptoms, your doctor may recommend continuing to monitor it but not treating it. You will have frequent MRI scans to see if the tumor is growing. If the tumor grows or causes problems, your provider can immediately switch to active therapy.
: This approach may halt tumor development for small and medium tumors. A single high dose of specialized radiation therapy is directly delivered to cancer. This method limits the amount of radiation that reaches surrounding normal tissues. During treatment, you will need frequent scans to look for any tumor progression.
: This type of surgery uses instruments to operate on small and delicate areas. The goal is to remove the acoustic neuroma while still preserving your facial nerve function. Surgery is often the only option that can permanently remove a tumor like this. In some cases, surgeons may be able to preserve your hearing as well. However, it depends on how big or small the original tumor was—the smaller it is, the more likely it will be successful in both removal and preservation attempts.
What are the side effects of Vestibular Schwannoma treatment?
One common side effect of vestibular schwannoma treatment is facial nerve palsy, also called seventh cranial nerve dysfunction. This condition occurs when the facial nerve is damaged, causing paralysis or weakness on one side of the face. Although it can be temporary, it can also be permanent.
Other side effects of vestibular schwannoma treatment include hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and balance problems. In some cases, these side effects may improve with time, but in other cases, they may be permanent. vestibular schwannoma is a type of brain tumor that grows on the vestibular nerve, which is responsible for balance and hearing.
Treatment for vestibular schwannoma typically involves surgery to remove the tumor. However, because the tumor is located near delicate structures in the brain, there is a risk of damage to these structures during surgery. As a result, vestibular schwannoma treatment can cause a variety of side effects.
What is the role of radiation therapy in Vestibular Schwannoma ?
Radiation therapy uses high-energy waves to kill cancer cells. It is a common treatment for many types of cancer, including vestibular schwannoma. There are two types of radiation therapy: external beam radiation therapy and internal beam radiation therapy. External beam radiation therapy uses a machine to direct the beams of radiation at the tumor.
Internal beam radiation therapy puts radioactive material in needles, seeds, or wires inside the body near the tumor. Radiation therapy can be used alone or with other treatments, such as surgery or chemotherapy. When vestibular schwannoma is small, surgery is usually the best treatment option. But when the tumor is larger, radiation therapy may be recommended instead of surgery or in addition to surgery.
Radiation therapy can also be used to relieve symptoms caused by a vestibular schwannoma, such as hearing loss or balance problems. Treatment with radiation therapy usually causes few side effects. The most common side effects are fatigue and skin changes. These side effects usually go away after treatment ends.
What is the prognosis for someone with Vestibular Schwannoma ?
The prognosis for someone with a vestibular schwannoma will depend on the size and location of the tumor. If the tumor is small and located in an easily accessible area, it can be surgically removed. However, larger tumors or those that are located deep within the brain may be more difficult to treat.
In some cases, radiation therapy may be used to shrink the tumor. The long-term outlook for patients with vestibular schwannoma is generally good, although there is a risk of recurrence. Regular follow-up appointments with a doctor are important to monitor for any new growths.
Risk Factors for Vestibular Schwannoma
There are several risk factors for vestibular schwannoma, a type of brain tumor. These include age, exposure to loud noise, and certain genetic conditions.
Age is the biggest risk factor, with people over the age of 60 being more likely to develop the condition.
Exposure to loud noise, either through work or leisure activities, can also increase the risk.
And finally, certain genetic conditions such as neurofibromatosis type 2 and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) are also linked to an increased risk of vestibular schwannoma.
While these are the main risk factors, it is important to note that most people with vestibular schwannoma do not have any of these risk factors. This suggests that there may be other unidentified causes as well.
How can you reduce your risk of getting Vestibular Schwannoma
Vestibular schwannomas are noncancerous tumors that develop on the vestibulocochlear nerve. This nerve transmits sound and balance information from the inner ear to the brain. Vestibular schwannomas are also called acoustic neuromas. These tumors are usually benign, meaning they’re noncancerous.
However, in some cases, they can be cancerous. Either way, they can cause serious health problems. Untreated vestibular schwannomas can grow and compress nearby structures, resulting in hearing loss, facial paralysis, and even death.
Although vestibular schwannomas are relatively rare, their incidence is increasing. There are a number of possible explanations for this increase, including better diagnostic techniques and increased exposure to loud noise.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing a vestibular schwannoma. One is to avoid exposure to loud noise. If you must be exposed to loud noise, make sure to use hearing protection.
Another is to avoid radiation therapy to the head or neck area. If you have a family history of vestibular schwannomas, you may want to consider genetic counseling. Finally, if you have any symptoms of a vestibular schwannoma, such as hearing loss or dizziness, it’s important to see a doctor right away so that the tumor can be diagnosed and treated early.
We are here to help
A vestibular schwannoma diagnosis can be alarming, but you can rest assured knowing that you’re in experienced hands with our team of doctors and nurses. We believe that no two patients are alike which is why we will develop a unique care plan tailored specifically for you and your situation.
We can provide you with a treatment plan that will give you the best chance for a complete recovery, whether it’s surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of treatments. If you have any questions or issues, do not hesitate to contact us. We’re here to assist you during this difficult period.