Learning About Your Condition
Self-education is a powerful way to set your mind at ease as you manage your medical condition. Learning more about your acoustic neuroma can help you in your conversations with your doctor as you begin the treatment planning process. While your personal doctor will make treatment recommendations based on the size and location of your tumor and your individual health factors, it can be helpful to have a basic understanding of the acoustic neuroma treatment options available in the tri-state area.
Understanding Your Acoustic Neuroma
An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that arises from the 8th cranial nerve, the vestibulocochlear nerve. This paired set of nerves is responsible for transmitting information about hearing and balance to the brain. An acoustic neuroma typically only develops in one of the two vestibulocochlear nerves, though some patients with a rare genetic disorder may have tumors on both sides of the brain.
Acoustic neuromas typically grow slowly and go unnoticed until adulthood. Some patients never experience symptoms and their tumors are found incidentally while undergoing imaging for other reasons. However, there is potential for future growth, making it important to work with an experienced doctor in northern NJ who can help manage your condition.
Developing a Treatment Plan
Your personal doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is most appropriate for your individual condition. You may need to undergo further examination, such as hearing tests and diagnostic imaging, to give your doctor more information about your specific tumor. Some of the factors your doctor will take into consideration before recommending treatment include:
- The size and location of your tumor
- Symptoms you are experiencing
- Your age and overall health
- Any complicating health conditions you may have
- Medications you are taking
Acoustic Neuroma Treatment Options
Your doctor may recommend a single treatment option or a combination approach, depending on your individual needs. This is one reason why it is important to find a doctor in NJ who has experience with diagnosing and treating acoustic neuromas. While your doctor will be the best person to explain your acoustic neuroma treatment options based on your specific situation, your treatment plan will likely include one or more of the following methods.
If your acoustic neuroma was found incidentally and is not causing any issues, your doctor may recommend a “watch and wait” approach before moving forward with treatment. However, because your tumor does have the potential to continue growing, it will be important that you attend for any follow-up visits as scheduled. This will ensure your doctor will detect any changes in your acoustic neuroma as soon as possible.
Acoustic Neuroma Surgery
Some patients will benefit from surgical removal of all or part of their acoustic neuroma. Your doctor may recommend surgery if your acoustic neuroma is very large and cannot be treated with Gamma Knife radiosurgery alone. However, your doctor may also recommend surgery if your acoustic neuroma is very small and in an easily accessible location. These nuances are exactly why it is important to work with a trained doctor in treating acoustic neuromas.
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
Though it sounds like a surgical procedure, Gamma Knife radiosurgery is actually an advanced form of radiation therapy. Using nearly 200 individual beams of low-dose radiation, Gamma Knife radiosurgery can be used to target an area as small as 0.15 mm – the width of a human hair. This precision is why your doctor can use Gamma Knife radiosurgery to treat your acoustic neuroma without damaging healthy adjacent structures, reducing the risk of nerve damage as compared to surgery.
Your doctor may recommend Gamma Knife radiosurgery if you are not a good candidate for surgery or if you simply prefer a minimally invasive approach. Most patients are able to return to normal activity levels, including work, within a day or two, making it an excellent treatment option for many people. Gamma Knife radiosurgery can also be used following surgical resection of your acoustic neuroma to ensure no tumor cells remain.
Continue the Conversation
You have started understanding your acoustic neuroma treatment options here, but it is important to continue the conversation with your personal doctor. He or she will be able to discuss your individual factors, such as the characteristics of your tumor, and relate the information you’ve learned to your particular case. If you find you still have questions, you will be able to discuss them then and better understand your personal treatment plan.
As you move forward through the diagnosis and treatment process, continue to educate yourself. Playing an active role in your care will help you feel more in control during this time, giving you confidence and peace of mind. This will translate into resting easier, both in body and mind.