Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a genetic neurological disorder that can affect the brain, spinal cord, nerves and skin. Tumours, or neurofibromas, grow along the body's nerves or on or underneath the skin.
Neurofibromatosis is classified into two distinct types – neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) and NF2. NF1, earlier known as von Recklinghausen's NF, is the more common of the types. NF2, also referred to as bilateral acoustic NF, occurs less frequently.
The tumours arise from changes in the nerve cells and skin cells. Tumours also may press on the body's vital areas as their size increases. NF may lead to developmental abnormalities and/or increased chances of having learning disabilities. Other forms of NF have also been observed; the symptoms are not consistent with that of NF1 or NF2. A rare form of NF is schwannomatosis.
As of now, there is no cure for either NF1 or NF2. So the treatment options considered are actually the ways to treat the effects the disease. Surgery may be helpful in removing tumours, although carry the risk of tumours regenerating.
In case of optic gliomas, the treatment may include surgery and/or radiation. For scoliosis, treatment may include surgery or back braces. For symptoms associated with NF2, surgery may be a viable option, however not without complications that could result in additional loss of hearing or deafness. Hearing aids are ineffective when parts of the auditory nerve are removed.
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