Who Is At Risk For Nerve Sheath Tumor?
People who have undergone radiation treatment previously are more at risk of getting nerve sheath tumor.
Individuals with neurofibromatosis types 1, neurofibromatosis 2 and schwannomatosis disorders are also at risk of nerve sheath tumors.
Benign nerve sheath tumors may take place at any part of a human body i.e. within the peripheral nervous system. Accordingly, such tumors stem from nerves’ network connecting different parts of your body to the spinal cord and the brain. Even though, in most of the cases, benign type of tumor does not cause any problem, but if you opt to leave them untreated, you may have to bear many risks, as we have discussed in this article.
Formation of Nerve Sheath Tumors
Nerves in our body send signals by the help of long fibers covered in nerve sheath or myelin. Myelin is responsible to provide protection to various nerve fibers from causing any damage and brings improvement in the nerve signaling speed. However, cells produced it sometimes causes malfunction and grows out of their control.
Whenever cells across the nerve sheath experience genetic mutation, they grow in an uncontrollable way and cause nerve sheath tumor. Most of the tumors are of solitary and take place in patients without causing any type of genetic predisposition to form sporadic tumors. A few individuals possess propensity towards multiple tumors and related abnormal features related to neurofibromatosis i.e. a type of genetic syndrome.
Cancerous Nerve Sheath Tumors
In some cases, peripheral nerve sheath tumors become cancerous ones or malignant type. These nerve tumors create many problems, cause severe pain and grow in a rapid way. To stay safe, it is essential for a patient to undergo with needle biopsy and special study to know whether he/she has a cancerous tumor or a noncancerous one. In case of cancerous tumor, doctors have to perform surgery to remove it completely, along with a huge portion of the affected nerve. Post-surgery, you may loss the nerve function with the removal of respective tumor. However, your condition may improve later on via nerve transplantation.
Risks to Leave Benign Nerve Sheath Tumor Untreated
Although benign nerve sheath tumors often do not require any treatment, leaving them untreated may result in many risks, which you have to consider carefully and discuss with your doctor for available treatments. Major risks in this case include-
Additional Tumor Growth
Similar to other types or forms of tumors, benign nerve sheath tumor may grow continuously in case you leave it untreated. Even if stays benign and grows at a slow pace, it gradually causes disruption in the functioning of nearby nerves leading to severe pain or loss of your neurological functions. In case you do not undergo with treatment, doctors suggest you careful observation combined with MRI on a regular basis. In case your tumor grows with time, you have to opt for surgery for its removal, as it may become symptomatic in your lifetime. You should keep in mind that delay in surgery creates further difficulties and affects your surgery’s outcome.
Chance or Risk of Malignancy
Because of Neurofibromatosis and Benign Tumors
Conversion of sheath tumor in benign form to malignant form is rare among patients with sporadic or solitary tumors, while common in patients suffering from neurofibromatosis. Although early surgery avoids the respective unfortunate event, it is a rare case and because of this, patients dealing with neurofibromatosis never consider it as any valid reason to opt for surgery. However, malignant conversion is a prime concern related to management, especially among neurofibromatosis patients, as they usually deal with multiple tumors followed by radio graphically. Any sudden variation in the tumor’s appearance or its growth rate monitored regularly via periodic MRIs is able to prompt the medical response in an appropriate way.
Because of Radiation Therapy
Besides malignant nerve sheath tumor from benign or noncancerous ones, malignant nerve sheath tumor develops in area or areas treated via radiation therapy after about 10 years to 20 years of your treatment.
There are a large number of risk factors associated with the problem of nerve sheath tumors. However, common ones are growth or spread of the tumor and conversion to cancerous tumors from noncancerous ones.
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