Schwannoma is a type of benign cancer that affects the nerve cells. If you are to study the histology of nervous tissue, then you will see that each section of a neuron has a cell known as a Schwann cell. These Schwann cells are cells that produce the myelin sheath, which is a protective and insulating covering present around the nerve cells. These sheaths not only help to protect the nerve cells, but also help increase the rate of transmission of messages across these nerve cells. However, there are different types of Schwannomas depending on the location. Given below are details regarding the different types and the different Schwannoma symptoms seen.
Types and Symptoms
It is a noncancerous tumor that develops from those nerves that are responsible for the hearing sensation in the ear. These nerves are also responsible for helping in maintaining balance of the body. There are many symptoms, like if the tumor keeps growing, then it usually presses against the hearing and balancing nerves. However, this may lead to asymmetric hearing loss, ringing in ear, dizziness and loss of balance, etc. If the tumor mass grows to an extent where it tends to interfere with the facial nerve, then it can also lead to facial tingling and facial numbness. In severe cases, it may even lead to facial weakness or paralysis on that side of the face where the tumor is present.
Acoustic neuroma is a type, which is normally seen in adults, being twice as commonly seen in women compared to men. Acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor of the eighth cranial nerve, which is the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain. Any tumor of this kind can lead to various symptoms, like tinnitus and gradual hearing loss, which is normally seen only in one ear. If the tumor grows and presses on adjoining nerves, then it can also lead to dizziness, unsteadiness, facial paralysis, and other related facial symptoms. There may also be progressive hearing loss, headache, papilloedema, unsteady gait, facial muscle weakness, etc. Since this is a type affecting the cranial nerve, it is also known as cranial nerve Schwannoma. Hence, most of the symptoms seen will be similar to those seen in such related Schwannomas.
A tumor that develops in the spinal cord can be benign or malignant. However, a spinal Schwannoma is a benign tumor that develops in the Schwann cells of the spinal cord. The symptoms of initial spinal Schwannoma include the sensation of progressive back pain. This back pain may become more severe while doing any kind of physically demanding activity. Sometimes, it may even hurt when the person is lying down, as this may press on the tumor. If the tumor keeps on growing, then it could become so large that it may compress the spinal nerves. Due to this, the patient may experience tingling sensations, weakness and numbness, pain, etc. Sometimes, the person may also experience pain that radiates down to the lower limbs. Sometimes, the nerve compression in the lower back may lead to bladder or bowel functioning loss.
Although the symptoms are relatively mild, and it is very rarely malignant in nature, one should not take this disorder lightly. If a person has progressive hearing loss and numbness in one side of the face, then it is best to immediately report to the doctor so that he may diagnose and treat the condition accordingly.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.