Peripheral Nerve Tumor

What is a Peripheral Nerve Tumor?

Peripheral Nerve Tumors could develop within a nerve in the peripheral nerve network, and they can occur anywhere in the body. These tumors include schwannomas and neurofibromas. They could affect nerve function and cause pain. They can even result in disability.

There are three types of nerve tumors:

  • The first type is a neurofibroma. This is usually found in patients with neurofibromatosis, which is a genetic disorder.
  • The second is a schwannoma, which is a nerve sheath tumor that could occur either in isolation or in patients who suffer from schwannomatosis or neurofibromatosis.
  • The third is a malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor, which is aggressive, can occur with neurofibromatosis, and needs to be managed with a multi-disciplinary approach.

The majority of peripheral nerve tumors are benign. They also grow slowly, so a lot of patients will not be aware that there is a problem until they realize that they have a lump that is getting bigger. Tapping or touching the lump will cause a tingling sensation or pain within the skin area that is supplied by the nerve.

What are the Symptoms of Peripheral Nerve Tumors?

If a peripheral nerve tumor develops and becomes large, fibers in the nerve could become compressed. At this point, symptoms like tingling, weakness, numbness, and pain will develop.

Peripheral Nerve Tumor Causes

A peripheral nerve tumor is made up of the fatty substance around nerve tissues, called myelin. Most of the tumors are benign, and those benign tumors are usually caused by neurofibromatosis. This is a group of genetic conditions that directly affects the way nervous system tissues develop. Neurofibromatosis is often diagnosed in young people from childhood through early adulthood. With this condition, tumors develop on nerves, in the spinal cord and in the brain. Some patients develop this condition through genetic inheritance while others develop a gene mutation spontaneously. In addition, some patients with a peripheral nerve tumor can develop it without having neurofibromatosis. In those who do not have a familial connection with this condition, the cause for the gene mutation that causes it is not currently known. There are several different classifications of peripheral nerve tumors. While the vast majority of these tumors are benign, this condition can also cause malignant tumors. A small percentage of those that form on the interior of the body, the plexiform peripheral tumor type, will become cancerous. Those that form on the skin, the dermal peripheral type, are benign.

How is Peripheral Nerve Tumors Treated?

Treatment options will be determined by the type of peripheral nerve tumor that you have.

The medical treatment for peripheral nerve tumors is sometimes just regular exams with your doctor, along with serial imaging. Other cases, however, might require surgery to remove the tumor.

Peripheral Nerve Tumor Prevention

Because so many cases of peripheral nerve tumors are inherited through genetic cases of neurofibromatosis, there is currently no known way to prevent this condition. For children and young adults who have family members with this type of tumor, testing is recommended to check for the condition before it worsens. Children may need regular testing into young adulthood to screen for the development of the condition. The testing may include a CT scan, an electrodiagnostic study of the nerves and an MRI. When this condition is caught early, many of the effects of it, including some of the skin, nerve and bone damage these tumors can cause, can be prevented.