Spinal schwannoma is a rare disease that causes development of tumor in the spine. To find more about the causes, symptoms and treatment of schwannoma of the spine, read on…
The schwannoma is a benign type of nerve tumor which affects the nervous system. The tumor is also called the nerve sheath tumor of the schwann cells or the neurolemmocytes. This is a type of cancer which could sometimes be malignant or benign in nature. However, it is an extremely rare disease. In fact, less than 1 in 100,000 people suffer with various schwannomas. There are various types of schwannoma, namely, vestibular schwannoma, acoustic schwannoma and spinal schwannoma. Amongst these types, the vestibular schwannoma is a non-carcinogenic tumor, while the spinal and acoustic schwannomas could be either benign or malignant. In the following sections of the article, we will be discussing the details and the possible causes, symptoms and treatment of schwannoma tumor of the spine.
What is Spinal Schwannoma?
This is a kind of slow growing tumor, that could be either benign or malignant. These tumors appear on the myelin sheath of the spine. Myelin sheath is the electrical insulating material that covers axons of the neurons. This is the protective covering of the axons and it is made of the schwann cells. These cells grow and form a layer around the nerves. However, when it is the case of schwannoma tumor, the schwann cells form a layer around the myelin sheath itself. Around 25% of all the types of spinal tumors are the schwannomas. The schwannomas of the spine could develop in two different manners. They could either be isolated lesions or a chain multiple schwannomas. According to the researchers, around 2.5% of all the incidences of schwannomas of the spine turn cancerous or malignant. There is no definite reason why this type of schwannomas may develop and hence it is also difficult to determine the group of people who might be at a higher risk of this disease. It is sometimes said that schwannomas are caused by radiation but it is not yet clinically proven.
Both malignant and benign types of schwannomas have a different set of symptoms. The most common symptoms of both these types of schwannomas is mild to severe back pain. In case of benign schwannoma, this pain turns unbearable when the person lies down. This is because the tumors get pressed when the person lies down. When the schwannoma tumors grow large, they may compress the spinal cord completely and cause several pretty apparent signs. These signs and symptoms include, tingling sensation, weakness and fatigue, shooting pain, numbness of the back and spine, pain that diversifies towards the lower parts of the body, including legs. Other symptoms like water retention and loss of digestive health are also observed in some cases. It is important to understand that the symptoms of this type of schwannoma differ from one person to the other. However, when a person observes either or the entire set of these symptoms, he should contact the health care provider.
Along with the physical examination, X-ray, CT scan, and MRI scan are a few diagnostic tests that are performed for the proper diagnosis of schwannoma. The health care provider may also ask the patient to walk and bend, in order to check his muscle strength. Biopsy is also performed. Schwannomas of the spinal cord can be surgically removed or cured with the help of therapies like radiation and chemotherapy. Certain types of medications are also prescribed, in order to provide relief from the pain of schwannomas. During the surgical removal of malignant schwannoma, some healthy surrounding nerve tissues are also removed, so that the cancer doesn’t spread to other parts of the body. If the tumors are very large, then surgery is accompanied with radiation or chemotherapy. In any case of radiation, chemotherapy or spinal schwannoma surgery, recovery time frame depends on the kind of tumors and the combination of the treatments which is preferred by the health care provider. The prognosis of this disease also depends on the size and type of the tumors. If the total surgical removal of the tumors fails, then they might regrow.
So we can conclude that, all in all, surgery is supposed to be the best option for the treatment of schwannoma of the spine. In case the surgery fails, the patient may also suffer with significant nerve damage. Well, on that note, I conclude this write-up. Keep in mind that all the information which is provided in the above article is for the educational purpose only.