What You Need to Know About Acoustic Neuroma (Vestibular Schwannoma): Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options

What You Need to Know About Acoustic Neuroma (Vestibular Schwannoma): Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options

Julie Scott, DNP
Julie Scott, DNP
Acoustic neuroma | cancerGO

What is Acoustic neuroma?

Acoustic neuroma, also known as vestibular schwannoma, is a benign (non-cancerous) tumor that develops on the vestibular nerve, which connects the inner ear to the brain.

Symptoms

The signs, diagnosis, and treatment of acoustic neuroma vary depending on the size and location of the tumor.

The most common signs of acoustic neuroma include:

  • hearing loss
  • ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
  • balance problems
  • facial weakness
  • facial numbness
  • headaches
  • dizziness

These symptoms may develop gradually over time and may be experienced on only one side of the body. As the tumor grows, symptoms may become more severe.

Diagnosis

Early diagnosis and treatment prevent complications and preserve hearing and balance function.

Diagnosing acoustic neuroma is often done through imaging tests. An MRI is the most commonly used imaging test for detecting acoustic neuromas, as it can provide detailed images of the inner ear and brain.

Treatment

Treatment options for acoustic neuroma depend on the size and location of the tumor, as well as the patient’s age, overall health, and symptoms. Small tumors not causing significant symptoms may be monitored closely with regular imaging and hearing tests without needing immediate treatment.

Larger tumors or those causing significant symptoms may require treatment such as surgery, radiation therapy, or a combination of both.

Surgery, also known as microsurgery, is the most common treatment for acoustic neuroma. Surgery aims to remove the tumor while preserving as much normal tissue as possible. Surgery can be done through several different approaches.

Radiation therapy, also known as stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) or stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT), uses focused beams of radiation to kill the cancer cells in the tumor while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. This non-invasive treatment option is typically reserved for patients who are not good candidates for surgery or those who prefer a less invasive option.

Acoustic neuroma (vestibular schwannoma) is a slow-growing tumor that develops on the main nerve from your inner ear to your brain. While vestibular schwannomas are usually noncancerous, they can cause serious symptoms, such as hearing loss, balance problems, and tinnitus. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor so they can rule out other potential causes and provide the proper treatment. Treatment options for acoustic neuroma include observation, surgery, radiation therapy, and targeted drug therapy.

No matter what treatment option you choose, working with a team of experienced medical professionals is important to ensure the best possible outcome.

Julie Scott, DNP
Julie Scott, DNP
Julie is an oncology certified Oncology Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of medical oncology experience. In addition to her clinical work, she is an accomplished healthcare writer providing oncology content for various publications. She also serves as an adjunct faculty member for a Master's nursing program and a chair for Doctoral nursing students.

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