Acoustic neuroma is a benign (not cancerous) tumor. Although called acoustic neuroma, they are not tumors of the acoustic nerve. They begin in the Schwann cells of the vestibular nerve, which is associated with balance.
It is estimated that only one person in every 100,000 in the United States is diagnosed with acoustic neuroma each year. While they can develop at almost any age, acoustic neuroma most commonly occur between 40 and 50.
Recent studies have shown that more cases of acoustic neuroma are being diagnosed. This may be due partly to advances in MRI scanning.
The tumors usually grow slowly and do not spread through the body. They generally affect hearing, balance and facial nerves. Although acoustic neuroma is not cancer, tumors can be dangerous if they grow large and press against the brainstem or brain.
Acoustic Neuroma Risk Factors
The cause of acoustic neuroma is not known. Neurofibromatosis type 2, a genetic disorder, can lead to acoustic neuroma formation in a small number of cases.
If you are concerned about this inherited family syndrome, we offer advanced genetic testing to let you know your risk.
Although there are theories that exposure to loud noise, head and neck radiation, or use of cellular phones may increase likelihood of acoustic neuromas, none of these have been scientifically proven.