Neurofibromas is a type of tumor that is formed around the nerve. This tumor is in the form of the soft bump that appears above or under the skin. This tumor is not limited to any specific area, instead; can develop anywhere in the body. The symptoms of this health disorder are often very mild or at times even absent. If the tumor closely touches the nerves or develops within the nerve then it causes severe pain or patients can experience numbness in the particular area. Usually, neurofibroma is not malignant (cancerous) but in some rare cases, the tumor becomes malignant.
Complications Of Neurofibromas
Complications associated with neurofibromas vary from one patient to another. In fact, the complications can also vary among two different patients of the same family.
Complications mainly occur when the tumor grows and starts destroying the surrounding tissues or when it starts pressing the surrounding the organs. Some of the common complications include:
Neurological Problems – Difficulty in thinking or learning new things is one of the most common complications. Some rare complications are epilepsy or accumulation of fluid in the brain.
Skeletal Problems – In some patients bone starts to deform, which can lead to fracture or difficulty in bone movement. Some patients also develop osteoporosis i.e. drastic fall in bone density.
Vision Problem – This complication arises when the tumor develops on or near the optic nerve. This, in turn, affects the vision of the patients.
Cardiovascular Problems – This complication increases the risk of high blood pressure and patients can also develop abnormalities related to blood vessels.
Cancer – As mentioned above around three to five percent of the people suffering neurofibromas are prone to develop a cancerous tumor. Breast cancer, brain tumors, leukemia, and colorectal cancer are some of the common cancers types caused as a result of neurofibromas.
In addition, there are various other complications that are associated such as interrupted breading, abnormal hormonal changes, damage in facial nerves, numbness in the affected areas, total or partial deafness and so on. (2)
Some of the primary symptoms of Neurofibromas include the following:
- A backache that becomes worse with time
- Bowel movement problems
- Progressive weakness
- Paralysis around the affected area
- Loss of sensation
It is highly recommended that if the patient experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms, then they should immediately visit the doctor without fail. This way further complications can be avoided. (1)
How Do You Evaluate Neurofibromas?
To date no specific cause for developing neurofibroma is known, it is believed that the people who have a genetic condition for neurofibromatosis type 1 are prone to develop neurofibroma also. This type of tumor is very common among people between twenty to forty years of age.
Doctors first evaluate neurofibroma after conducting a physical examination of the patient. They also discuss with patients about their health or medical history. Further, they confirm the problem by conducting imaging tests like an MRI scan or CT scan. These tests help in identifying various aspects of the tumor, which includes the exact location of the tumor, its size and also the tissues that are affected by its presence. Doctors can also ask their patients to take a PET scan, which helps in identifying whether it begins. Depending on the condition, doctors also recommend biopsy before performing any surgery to identify the exact location and type of neurofibroma.
One of the biggest risk factors of neurofibroma is the family history of the patient. More than fifty percent of the patients inherit this health disorder from their parents. For patients who do not have affected parents are likely to suffer from a gene mutation.
There are two variants of neurofibromas NF1 and NF2, both of these are ADD i.e. autosomal dominant disorders. This means that children with affected parents have fifty percent more prone to inherit this problem from the gene mutation. (1)
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