Neurofibroma may lead to various complications. The complications depend upon the types of neurofibroma. Some complications are related to the disease itself while others occur because of the treatment. Certain complications of neurofibroma are life-threatening.
Can You Die From Neurofibroma?
Neurofibroma may cause various complications. Although most complications are not life-threatening and can be managed through monitoring and optimum treatment strategy. However, the transformation of neurofibroma to the malignant tumor is one of the most serious effects of this condition. Neurofibromatosis, a type of neurofibroma and is genetically linked, is of two types NF-1 and NF-2. Almost 20% of NF-1 cases are being transformed into malignant tumors. Risk of early death has been reported in patients suffering from a malignant form of neurofibromatosis4.
Complications Of Neurofibroma
Neurofibroma is a benign condition. This tumor originates from the cells that form the nerve sheath. These cells include Schwann cells, Perineural cells, and fibroblasts.
Although benign, these tumors have the potential to disrupt the normal function especially of the nervous system which results in various complications. The further genetic disposition of the form of neurofibroma i.e. Neurofibromatosis type 1 and Neurofibromatosis type 2 are relatively more serious forms of neurofibroma. These complications include:
Neurological Complications: Neurofibromatosis type 1, in its severe form, is capable of causing life-threatening complications. These include headache, epilepsy, facial palsy, white matter disease, radiculopathy, hydrocephalous, intraspinal neurofibroma, and lacunar stroke1.
Bleeding: Bleeding is a rare but life-threatening complication of neurofibroma. Bleeding may occur either due to the disease itself or during surgical excision of the tumor. At least one case has been reported in which the patient of neurofibromatosis type-1 experiences massive, recurrent subcutaneous hemorrhage2.
Recurrence Of Lesions: Many cases of neurofibroma have a recurrence. The risk of frequent recurrence is particularly increased in cases where there is incomplete removal of the tumor. Recurrence of orbital neurofibroma may also be caused due to the transaction of the nearby nerve leading to amputation tumor3.
Scarring: Surgeries are done to remove neurofibroma only when it is required to do so. Neurofibroma is a benign tumor, however, may have an impact on the surrounding nerves. Surgical excision of neurofibroma leaves saves on the affected site.
Numbness: As the tumor progresses, it starts pressing the surrounding nerves. When the tumor compresses the spinal cord or other nerves, there might be changes in sensation including numbness and tingling sensation.
Malignant Transformation: Although neurofibroma is being, however, malignant transformation of neurofibroma in the malignant tumor is the most serious complication of this condition. If the patient suffered from neurofibromatosis type-1, the risk of malignant transformation is about 20%.
Cosmetic Concerns: When the growth of neurofibroma occurs in more than one nerve, as seen in plexiform neurofibroma, it results in disfigurement of that particular organ. Even they have benign nature, due to severe cosmetic problems, their removal, sometimes, is essential.
Prevention From Complete Removal: In some cases, the complete removal of the tumor is required. In cases when the tumor gets associated with large nerve fibers, partial removal may increase risk of recurrence while complete removal may lead to disability.
Infiltration In Surrounding Tissue: Infiltration to surrounding tissue is another serious complication of neurofibroma. Infiltration deep into tissues requires more aggressive monitoring and treatment.
Neuro deficit: As neurofibroma originates from the connective tissue of nerves, it may compress nerve fibers which may cause sensory or motor deficit.
Infection: If the neurofibroma is present in areas such as the gluteal region, risk of infection increases because of the friction generated due to frequent sitting and standing4. Although infection is not a common complication of neurofibroma.
Cystic Degeneration: Cystic degeneration may also occur in certain forms of neurofibroma especially plexiform neurofibroma.
Complications of neurofibroma include neurological symptoms, infection, Neuro deficit, cyst degeneration, recurrence, scarring, numbness, malignant transformation, cosmetic concerns, and infiltration to surrounding tissues. Malignant transformation of neurofibroma, especially NF-1 may lead to death.