WHAT IS A VESTIBULAR SCHWANNOMA?
Vestibular schwannomas – commonly called by the misnomer, acoustic neuroma – are benign growths arising from the balance nerve. Because they are benign, the do not metastasize, or spread to other parts of the body. They are uncommon, and occur in approximately 10 people per million per year in the United States. They tend to be found in patients older than 40 years. The vast majority (95%) of these tumors are sporadic, meaning they are not passed on through genes. Sporatic tumors occur in only one ear, and there are no known risk factors. Rarely these tumors are associated with a genetic disease called Neurofibromatosis Type II. Patients with Neurofibromatosis develop tumors at a younger age, usually have tumors on both sides and also have other manifestations, including benign tumors of the brain and dura (the covering of the brain). Vestibular schwannomas are generally slow growing (less than 3 millimeters per year) and may not grow at all if followed over time. However, tumor growth