Neurofibroma is a benign tumor. It occurs on the peripheral nerves. The patient may suffer from either a single tumor or multiple tumors. Various treatment options are available for either managing or curing neurofibroma. Due to inherited risks in surgery, it is recommended only when required.
Is There A Surgery For Neurofibroma?
The decision for surgery in neurofibroma depends upon the condition of the patient and location of the tumor. Based on the type of neurofibroma, various surgical options are available. However, it is to be kept in mind that surgery may lead to certain complications. Thus, surgery should be recommended only when it is essential.
The most serious complication of the surgery is damage to nearby nerves. As neurofibroma originates from the peripheral nerve, trying to remove such tumor may cause nerve damage. This complication can be minimized by performing an MRI to ascertain that the tumor which is to be removed should not be associated with an important nerve3.
For removing a large number of tumors, electrodesiccation is generally used as it is impossible to conduct open surgery for a large number of tumors. In this process, the tumor is burnt and shrinks with a cautery probe. This treatment may result in a scar.
Another surgical option for neurofibroma is stereotactic spine radiosurgery. It is a minimally invasive procedure which uses a high energy beam guided to the target tumor. This treatment procedure causes less damage to nearby tissues.
What Is The Life Expectancy With Neurofibroma?
Neurofibroma is a non-cancerous tumor. If the patient may suffer from multiple neurofibromas, it may be due to development of neurofibromatosis. Prognosis of neurofibroma depends upon the type of disease.
Neurofibromatosis, a type of genetic neurofibroma has two types with two different progressions. NF 1 has the potential to transform into malignancy in almost 20% of cases while NF 2 rarely changes to malignant form4. The recurrence of neurofibroma is high and the patient should be kept under period monitoring even if the tumor is successfully treated.
Treatment For Neurofibroma
Treatment of neurofibroma is not specific. The treatment of neurofibromas depends upon a variety of factors including the severity of the condition, rate of growth of the tumor and also the discomfort that neurofibroma is causing to the patient. In some cases, the treatment is directed to reduce the symptoms, while in other cases monitoring is required. However, in cases where the neurosurgeon thought that disease may progress to cause complications, surgery can be recommended. When the tumor is small in size- less than 2 cm and is not causing any symptoms, treatment is usually not required1. Following are some of the treatment options available for neurofibroma:
Monitoring: If the tumor is very small and not causing any symptoms, the doctor may advise for periodic monitoring of the tumor. Also, if the tumor is located in such a position that treating it may do more harm than good, he may recommend monitoring. Monitoring may be through periodic evaluation of tumor through imaging to analyze growth.
Surgery: If the tumor causes severe symptoms and quality of life of the patient is significantly reduced, removal of the tumor through surgery is advised. Various surgical options are available and the neurosurgeon would decide the best surgical option available for a particular type of neurofibroma.
Managing Symptoms: Various medicines are prescribed to manage the symptoms of pain and swelling. Pain is managed through analgesics and anti-inflammatory while in cases of severe swelling, steroids are prescribed.
Future Options: Various treatment options, especially in medicines, are in clinical trials. The medications, such as MEK inhibitors, which have been granted breakthrough therapy designation2, may be used to shrink the size of neurofibroma thereby reducing the pain and sufferings.
Various surgical options are available for removing neurofibroma. The patient may undergo stereotactic spine radiosurgery or electrodesiccation or open surgery for tumor removal. Almost 20% of cases of NF 1 may transform to the malignant tumor.