If you have been diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, one of your next steps is to learn about the available treatment options. During this time, your doctor will work with you to customize a treatment plan based on your unique case, taking into consideration your personal health factors. Whether you are already at that point or you just received your diagnosis, knowing more about all the options for acoustic neuroma treatments in Bergen County New Jersey can help you understand the process and feel confident along the way.
About Acoustic Neuroma
Before discussing your acoustic neuroma treatment options, it can be helpful to review your condition itself. An acoustic neuroma is a benign brain tumor that arises from the 8th cranial nerve, the vestibulocochlear nerve. This is the cranial nerve responsible for hearing and balance, and you have one on each side, as with all the cranial nerves. Because it grows slowly, most patients are between 30-60 years old when diagnosed with acoustic neuroma.
Though an acoustic neuroma is benign, this does not mean that it cannot cause problems. A benign tumor does not spread to other areas of the body, but it can still grow large enough to press on and even damage adjacent structures, necessitating treatment. Most people only develop an acoustic neuroma on one side (unilateral), though bilateral acoustic neuroma can occur in patients with a genetic disease called Neurofibromatosis Type 2.
Acoustic Neuroma Treatment Options
Depending on your individual health factors, including the size and location of your acoustic neuroma, your doctor will recommend the treatment option he or she feels is most appropriate for your case. This is why it is especially important to work with a specialist in acoustic neuroma treatment options in Bergen County, NJ. He or she will be able to evaluate your individual condition and then recommend the most appropriate option that most suits your treatment needs.
If your acoustic neuroma is very small and not causing symptoms, your doctor may recommend a “watch and wait” approach. Your doctor will schedule periodic imaging to monitor your tumor for growth, so it is important that you adhere to your follow-up schedule to ensure any changes are detected as early as possible. If your acoustic neuroma does grow larger and/or begin to cause symptoms, you may need to ultimately undergo treatment.
Some patients will need to undergo surgical removal of all or part of an acoustic neuroma. Surgery takes place in a hospital while you are asleep, ensuring you are comfortable during the procedure. Most patients spend 3-4 days recovering in the hospital, followed by a period of six to eight weeks of recovery at home, including activity and work restrictions. While a six-to-eight-week period of recovery may be necessary, typically patients recover and can go back to work more quickly.
Your doctor may recommend surgery for your acoustic neuroma if it is small and in an easily accessible area. Surgery is recommended more often in younger patients and in patients without complicating health conditions. If you have a very large acoustic neuroma, the surgeon may remove as much of the tumor as possible and schedule you for follow-up Gamma Knife radiosurgery to eliminate any remaining tumor cells.
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
The third of the available acoustic neuroma treatments in Bergen County is Gamma Knife radiosurgery, an advanced form of radiation therapy. Gamma Knife radiosurgery is minimally invasive and takes place in an outpatient setting, which means you do not need to stay in the hospital overnight, and most patients can return to regular activity levels within a day or two.
During Gamma Knife radiosurgery, your doctor is able to target and shrink tumor cells, sparing healthy surrounding tissues. Gamma Knife radiosurgery uses almost 200 individual beams of low-dose radiation to target an area as precise as a single human hair, which is why patients experience fewer of the unpleasant side effects commonly associated with radiation therapy.
There are many acoustic neuroma patients in the tri-state area who can benefit from Gamma Knife radiosurgery. Your doctor may recommend Gamma Knife radiosurgery if you are not a candidate for surgery due to complicating health conditions, advanced age or if your tumor is in an inoperable area. As discussed above, Gamma Knife radiosurgery can also be used to eliminate any remaining cells if the surgeon is not able to remove the entire tumor.
The Right Treatment for Your Individual Case
Now that you have a deeper understanding of your acoustic neuroma and treatment options, you can appreciate that the treatment that is right for you may not be the same as the next person. Because every patient is different, it is important to work with a specialist in acoustic neuroma treatments in Bergen County so he or she can make recommendations based on your unique case.
As you move through the process of treatment planning, your actual procedure and on to recovery, continue to educate yourself about your condition and the process. Self-education is a powerful way to play an active role in your healthcare, providing you peace of mind and confidence throughout the entire process. If you find you have questions about your personal condition, be sure to bring them up with your doctor at your next appointment so he or she can address them specifically and help set your mind at ease.