The term neurofibromatosis refers to a disorder which is genetic and results in the formation of tumors on nerve tissue. Unlike many similar conditions, tumors are not isolated to any particular part of the nervous system. Therefore, neurofibromatosis can even affect the brain or spinal cord.
In the majority of cases, the tumors are benign. However, there is a risk that tumors will become cancerous in some patients. While most patients experience only mild symptoms from neurofibromatosis, a range of potentially serious health problems can result from the disorder. Cardiovascular problems, loss of hearing or vision and impaired learning are just some of the complications associated with neurofibromatosis.
Symptoms of Neurofibromatosis
Although it is considered a disorder, there are three forms of neurofibromatosis known as NF1, NF2 and schwannomatosis. Each form of the disorder presents with different symptoms and potential complications. The symptoms of NF1, which is also the most common, are easily missed without a diagnosis from a relevant medical professional and may include:
- Light brown spots on the skin – usually over six in number
- Noticeable bumps on the iris
- Pronounced learning difficulties
- Soft bumps under the skin
- Freckled armpits or groin
Although less common, NF2 is more easily identified due to the formation of benign tumors in the ears that typically affect hearing. The rarest form, schwannomatosis, usually doesn’t present symptoms until the early twenties, but can cause serious complications such as muscle loss and prolonged numbness in various parts of the body.
As the tumors that form due to neurofibromatosis affect the nervous system, partial or full removal can help sufferers manage the disorder. Visible symptoms generally present in childhood, and tumors may be sufficiently progressed to the point where they are causing pain, discomfort and other issues. Some of the areas where the Vascular Birthmark Center can help include pain management, reduction of sensory impacts and promotion of learning development.
Dr. Greg Levitin will provide an evaluation to determine the best course of treatment for each patient. There is no known cure for the condition, so treatment emphasizes managing associated symptoms through surgery to remove tumors and providing pain relief.
Should I Consult with a Doctor?
If you are at all concerned that you or your child has a form of neurofibromatosis disorder, we do recommend consulting with Dr. Greg Levitin. Earlier diagnosis is often crucial in effectively managing neurofibromatosis and reducing the risks associated with growing tumors. The Vascular Birthmark Center can also provide any necessary referrals should your child need them, ensuring that he or she receives the best care possible.
To book your child a consultation with Dr. Levitin, contact our office today and speak to one of our professional team members.