Rare Diseases 2022

Schwannoma: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

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Schwannoma: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment
Schwannoma: what é, symptoms, causes and treatment

Schwannoma, also known as neurinoma or neurilemoma, is a type of benign tumor that affects Schwann cells, which are located in the peripheral nervous system.

The presence of this type of tumor does not normally lead to the appearance of signs or symptoms, however when it compresses a nerve, it can cause symptoms according to its location, such as hearing loss, vertigo, pain when speaking, problems digestive problems and pain and tingling in one of the limbs, for example.

Treatment for Schwannoma is indicated in cases where there are symptoms, and removal through surgery is usually indicated by the doctor. In cases where surgery is not possible, chemotherapy or radiotherapy sessions may be indicated.

Symptoms of Schwannoma

In most cases, Schwannoma does not lead to the appearance of signs or symptoms, however when there is nerve compression, it can lead to the development of symptoms according to the place where it is present. Thus, the main symptoms of Schwannoma are:

  • Compression of the auditory nerve (acoustic): progressive deafness in one ear, dizziness, vertigo, loss of balance, ear pain;
  • Trigeminal nerve compression: severe pain when talking, eating or drinking, numbness or facial paralysis;
  • In the spinal canal: weakness, digestive problems and difficulty controlling the sphincters;
  • In the limbs: pain, weakness and tingling.

In the presence of signs and symptoms that may be indicative of Schwannoma, it is important to consult the neurologist or general practitioner so that an evaluation of the symptoms is carried out and exams, such as magnetic resonance, computed tomography, electromyogram and/or biopsy.

Possible causes

The causes of Schwannoma are still unknown, however it is believed to be related to genetics. In addition, the occurrence of this type of tumor is more common in people with neurofibromatosis, which is an inherited disease caused by the abnormal growth of nerve tissue, resulting in the formation of small nodules and tumors. Learn more about neurofibromatosis.

How the treatment is done

In most cases, Schwannoma does not need treatment, especially when there are no symptoms, as it corresponds to a benign tumor. However, if compression of a nerve by this tumor is verified, which leads to the occurrence of symptoms, surgery may be indicated for its removal, followed by a biopsy.

If the biopsy shows the presence of features indicative of malignancy, which is rare, then radiotherapy may be recommended.

In cases where the Schwannoma is large, the doctor may recommend chemotherapy before surgery to reduce its size and thus make it possible to remove it. In addition, in cases where the location of the benign tumor is difficult and surgery poses a risk, the doctor may also recommend radiotherapy.

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