Schwannoma Treatment- Cancer/Oncology

What is Schwannoma?

A schwannoma is a tumour that grows in the sheaths of nerves in peripheral nervous system. Schwannoma are generally non-cancerous (benign). In rare case they may be cancerous. It can occur anywhere in the body.

A schwannoma develops from cells called Schwann cells which is a type of cell that wraps itself around peripheral nerves and provides support and protection. Schwannomas generally develop in otherwise healthy people without any known reasons. This condition may also develop by a genetic disorder such as neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2), Carney complex, or schwannomatosis. Patients with these genetic disorders would have more than one schwannoma.

What are the treatment options?

Depending on the location of the abnormal growth and pain level, treatment options such as monitoring, surgery, radiation therapy, or stereotactic radiosurgery are recommended. A medical oncologist (doctor who treats tumours with chemotherapeutic drugs) will propose the line of treatment for the treatment of pancreatic islet cell tumour. A surgical oncologist (doctor who has specialized in operating on tumours) will perform surgery if required.

Monitoring: If the schwannoma is small and not causing any problems, initially the patient might be only asked to follow-up with doctor regularly along with a CT scan or MRI scan every few months. This will help the doctor to observe the tumour for signs of growth or change.

Surgery: Schwannoma surgery is required if the tumour is growing quickly and causing pain and it is performed under general anesthesia.

Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy may be used in combination with surgery. It is used to help control the tumour growth and improve your symptoms.

Stereotactic radiosurgery: To limit the damage to healthy tissue, stereotactic body radiation therapy may be used if the tumour is near crucial blood vessels or nerves. This technique helps to deliver radiation exactly to a tumour without making an incision.

Chemotherapy as well as immunotherapy is also used as a treatment option.

What to expect after the treatment?

Patient may go home the following day after the surgery. However, depending on the location of the tumour, some patients may need to stay in the hospital for couple of days. Sometimes tumour may reoccur even after a successful surgery.



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About the Author:

Dr. Anand Lakhkar is a physician scientist from India. He completed his basic medical education from India and his postgraduate training in pharmacology from the United States. He has a MS degree in pharmacology from New York Medical College, a MS degree in Cancer/Neuro Pharmacology from Georgetown University and a PhD in Pharmacology from New York Medical College where he was the recipient of the Graduate Faculty Council Award for academic and research excellence.  His research area of expertise is in pulmonary hypertension, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular pharmacology.  He has multiple publications in international peer-reviewed journals and has presented his research at at prestigious conferences.