Nerve sheath is made up of myelin and connective tissue. In the Central Nervous System, the lipid rich substance, myelin is formed from the glial cells while myelin of peripheral nervous system is formed through Schwann cells. The function of the nerve sheath is to insulate the nerves for better conduction of electrical impulses generated in the nervous system. The nerve sheath tumors are due to abnormal growth of the cells of this sheath.
Various types of nerve sheath tumors exist, some are benign, and the others are malignant. Various treatment approaches are advised by the oncologist depending upon the type and stage of the nerve sheath tumor. Although most of the tumors are non-cancerous but the growth of these tumors in the nervous system can damage the nerves and affects the related organ.
What Are The Types Of Nerve Sheath Tumor?
Generally, two types of nerve sheath tumors occur in a patient:
Benign Nerve Sheath Tumors– These nerve sheath tumors are non-cancerous and are not life threatening but due to their growth inside the nervous system, they have the potential to significantly impact the functioning of particular organ. Thus, even the benign tumors should be taken care of in case of related neurological symptoms.
Malignant Nerve Sheath Tumors– These nerve sheath tumors are cancerous and have the potential to metastasize. Thus, for favorable prognosis of the malignant tumor, the treatment should be started as soon as possible.
Benign nerve sheath tumors are of various types as follows:
Schwannoma– These tumors generate from the Schwann cells and the most common tumor of this type is vestibular Schwannoma. The vestibular Schwannoma results in the deafness as they affect the nerves that are supplied to the ear. These nerve sheath tumors grow slowly.
Lipoma– Lipoma is generally a mas or lump of fat building cells. Although they are generally non-cancerous nerve sheath tumors, but when they compress the nerves, medical intervention is required.
Neurofibroma– These nerve sheath tumors can occur on nerves throughout the body. Cutaneous, spinal and plexiform are the three major types of neurofibroma. The accompanying condition with this type of tumor is neurofibromatosis.
Perineurioma– It is a type of nerve sheath tumor that generally occurs due to perineurial cells. It may be within the soft tissues to intraneural.
Neurofibrosarcoma is a type of malignant nerve sheath tumor that involves the peripheral nervous system.
Nerve Sheath Tumor Symptoms
The nerve sheath tumor shows the symptoms in relation to the nerve on which these tumors develop. These tumors tend to compress the nerves thereby affecting the organs and these affects are being identified as symptoms. These tumors also compress the nearby blood vessels and tissues leading to pain. Following are the symptoms associated with the nerve sheath tumor:
Pain– In both the benign as well as malignant nerve sheath tumor, pain is a common symptom. Pain is one of the symptoms that along with other neurological symptoms indicate the presence of tumor.
Hearing Loss– Generally, the nerve sheath tumor involves the vestibular nerve, thus the patient has difficulty in hearing and also experiences ringing of ears.
Loss Of Coordination And Balance– Ears are an important organ for balance and thus damage of the nerve supply to ears may cause disorientation and dizziness.
Swelling or Lumps– A palpable axillary mass is seen in many cases of nerve sheath tumor.
Numbness And Tingling– As the muscle is compressed, numbness and tingling sensation is experienced by the patient.
Paralysis– When the nerve supply to a particular organ is seriously compromised due to compression by tumor, it may result in paralysis.
Reduced Muscle Strength– Due to the reduced reflex and compromised nerve supply, some of the patients experiences reduced muscle strength.
Nerve sheath is composed of connective tissue along with fat substance known as myelin sheath. This sheath is important for optimum conduction of nerve impulses. The nerve sheath tumor develops with in the sheath due to overgrowth of the cells. The symptoms associated with the nerve sheath tumor are due to compression of the nerve, blood vessels or tissues. Symptoms include pain, lump, paralysis, hearing loss, loss of coordination and balance, paralysis and the weakened muscles.