Treatment for Vestibular Schwannoma
Treatment for vestibular schwannoma most often consists of surgery to remove the tumor. Other treatment options for the tumor may involve radiation therapy. Radiation therapy may be the recommended treatment for vestibular schwannoma in cases involving people in poor health or those with tumors affecting both ears. In some cases, doctors may recommend watchful waiting, which consists of watching the tumor for growth using regular MRIs.
Diagnosing vestibular schwannoma in its early stages is an important part of preventing serious health problems associated with the tumor. Once a doctor diagnoses the tumor, treatment for vestibular schwannoma may involve:
- Surgical removal (see Vestibular Schwannoma Surgery)
- Radiation therapy
- Watchful waiting.
Your doctor can describe your treatment options for vestibular schwannoma and the expected results of each. You and your doctor can then work together to develop a treatment plan that meets your medical needs and personal values. Choosing the most appropriate treatment for vestibular schwannoma is a decision that ideally involves the patient, the family, and the healthcare team.
Typically, a vestibular schwannoma is removed using surgery. The exact type of vestibular schwannoma surgery performed depends on the size of the tumor and the level of hearing in the affected ear. If the tumor is very small, hearing may be saved and accompanying symptoms of vestibular schwannoma may improve. As the tumor grows larger, surgical removal is more complicated because the tumor may have damaged the nerves that control facial movement, hearing, and balance -- and may also have affected other nerves and structures of the brain.
The removal of tumors affecting the hearing, balance, or facial nerves can make the patient's symptoms worse because sections of these nerves may also need to be removed with the tumor.