What Is The Best Treatment For Nerve Sheath Tumor?

What Is The Best Treatment For Nerve Sheath Tumor?

The best treatment for nerve sheath tumor depends on several factors such as the type of the tumor, the location and whether they’re interfering with your life. Most nerve sheath tumors are benign and will not have any negative impact on your life and daily activities. As such, they do not require treatment, but they can be monitored constantly to keep track of their growth. In cases of malignant nerve sheath tumors, surgery is usually the fit approach of treating the tumor. However, in some cases, surgery isn’t always the best first approach, especially in cases where the tumors are very large or cannot be clearly seen. Therefore, chemotherapy or radiation therapy can be administered first to reduce the size of the tumor, and then surgery can follow so as to completely remove the tumor.

Chemotherapy For Nerve Sheath Tumors

Chemotherapy is a best treatment for tumors, and nerve sheath tumors are not an exception. It involves the use of certain anti-cancerous drugs, which kill the cancerous cells thus shrinking the tumor altogether. Chemotherapy is also ideal for patients whose nerve sheath tumors have metastasized to neighboring regions or relapsed so as to slow down their growth and control the symptoms. Chemotherapy drugs which can be used for nerve sheath tumors include a combination of drugs such as doxorubicin hydrochloride, ifosfamide, epirubicin, and etoposide, which are administered intravenously. They are given in phases over several days, then repeated in a cycle over months as per your doctor’s prescription. Once you have recovered from chemotherapy, you can be subjected to radiation therapy or surgery as deemed necessary by your physicians.

Radiation Therapy For Nerve Sheath Tumors

Radiation therapy involves the use of power X-rays and protons to get rid of cancerous cells in the body. It can be used prior to surgery when at first surgery is not a viable option to treat the nerve sheath tumor. Radiation can also be used after surgery recovery so as to kill remaining cancerous cells and lower the risks of the tumor recurring. In addition to a course of radiation therapy, a patient may undergo brachytherapy or intraoperative electron radiation (IOERT). Brachytherapy is the direct use of radioactive implants on the cancerous cells. Intraoperative electron radiation involves the use of electron radiation directly on the ‘tumor bed’ i.e. where it initially lay during surgery.

Adjuvant radiation is an additional treatment therapy given after an initial treatment has already been administered. It is the best treatment for nerve sheath tumors with larger lesions and with a more aggressive histology that is likely to recur.

Surgery For Nerve Sheath Tumors

Surgery as treatment for nerve sheath tumors is meant to either reduce the size of the tumor or completely remove the tumor. In addition to excising the tumor, a small portion of healthy tissue near the location of the tumor is also removed to limit the likelihood of recurrence. Malignant nerve sheath tumors need to be surgically removed as soon as possible since they progress really fast and could be fatal if not treated early enough. For benign nerve sheath tumors, surgery is often applicable if and only if the tumor is pressing on a nerve causing neurological problems. Nonetheless, to be on the safe side, it is crucial that a tumor of the nerves be removed to limit any risk of future complications. Surgery is the most successful of all treatment methods of curing nerve sheath tumors, provide that complete resection is achieved. As much as surgery is successful in completely excising a nerve sheath tumor, it has a disadvantage to it. That is the likelihood of the patient developing neurological deficits after the surgery.

Physical therapy is therefore advised if that happens and if all goes well, patients can recover from the deficits and regain their nerve functionality.


Nerve sheath tumors can be best treated with either radiation, chemotherapy, surgery or a combination of these treatment options. For utmost excision of a nerve sheath tumor, surgery is the best primary treatment. If the tumor is likely to relapse, then after surgery, a patient can undergo further treatment of chemotherapy or radiation to minimize the risk of recurrence. The best treatment for a nerve sheath tumor will basically depend on the type, location, presence of neurological deficits, and its impact on the quality of life of the patient. After treatment has been completed, frequent medical checkups are crucial to monitor the progress of the patient as well as the absence/presence of the tumor.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 26, 2018

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