Do Neurofibromas Stop Growing & At What Age Do They Appear?

Neurofibromas are tumors of ectodermal and mesodermal origin because of the involvement of neural and fibrous tissue in it. This is usually not a dangerous tumor because of its benign nature and small size. The patient suffering from the neurofibroma usually presents early because of the cosmetically bad appearance of the tumor.
The size of the neurofibroma depends upon the severity of the disease and strength of association. More the number of people affected in the family more is the severity of disease occurring in next-generation resulting in larger tumors.

Do Neurofibromas Stop Growing?

Usually, neurofibromas stop growing after an extent because these are very benign tumors to be known in nature and local spread is seen only in rare cases. Sometimes they can be associated with very large tumors are known as plexiform neurofibroma which involves multiple numbers of nerve bundles and is more commonly associated with malignant changes which can involve both local tissues and distant tissues.

Plexiform neurofibroma which is a type of neurofibromas is characterized by continuous growth, increased involvement of local tissues and widespread neurological deficit which is irreversible and incurable.

Surgical removal is the treatment of choice in neurofibromas. Laser treatment is preferred nowadays by the patients although it is costly and not affordable to everyone. Once the surgical removal or laser treatment of the tumor has been done, in more than 90% of cases the tumor stops growing and there is no recurrence found at the site of resection[1].

Medical treatment has proven to be a failure in the neurofibroma cure. Even widespread research work has not yielded good results in medical therapy of the disorders. Scientists are yet to develop a drug which could shrink the size of neurofibromas or even stop it from growing.

At What Age Do They Appear?

Although the neurofibroma presentation covers the whole life and can be seen from early childhood to old age. Neurofibromas associated with neurofibromatosis 1 which is most common, are seen in pubertal and young adults in second to the third decade whereas when associated with neurofibromatosis 2 the age of presentation reduces with a few years and patient presents in teenage. Neurofibromas are usually detected as the first cases in their family but if found in the next generation with known cases in the previous generation, then the likelihood of the appearance of disease increases many folds and also the age of presentation decreases from teenage to late childhood in the first decade. Neurofibromatosis type 1 is seen as 1 per 3000 population whereas neurofibromatosis type 2 is seen as 1 per 37000[2].

According to many studies, male and female number of cases affected with neurofibroma is equal without any predilection. All the races and ethnic groups are equally affected by this disorder. The skeletal symptoms of the neurofibromatosis like scoliosis are more commonly seen in females with higher severity than males. The cases associated with optic gliomas are also more common among females than males.

Conclusion

Neurofibromas are soft or firm tumors arising from neural and fibrous tissues. These could be singular or multiple in number. These tumors are very troublesome due to their bad cosmetic appearance. Their larger counterparts known as plexiform neurofibromas are more dangerous and difficult to treat due to continuous growth shown by them.

Regular follow up is required to detect the early growth or nodule formation and to assess the size of already present neurofibroma. Usually, patients are recalled after every month or so for the assessment and call upon further treatment is taken by the results. Continuous full body checkups are very important in children whose parents are known cases of neurofibromatosis syndromes because of higher chances of suffering from the tumors in them. Early detection of the small tumors would help to reduce the likelihood of severe disease as well as life expectancy would be less affected by the disorder.

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