An acoustic neuroma, also called a vestibular schwannoma, is a rare, non-cancerous tumor.
• These tumors do not spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. The brain is not invaded by the acoustic tumor, but the tumor pushes on the brain as it enlarges.
• Acoustic tumors constitute 6%-10% of all brain tumors and are found in roughly one of every 100,000 people per year in the United States. This translates to about 2,500-3,000 newly diagnosed acoustic tumors per year.
• In most cases, these tumors grow slowly over a period of years, but sometimes the rate of growth is more rapid.
• Symptoms can be mild or severe, and multiple symptoms might develop rather rapidly.
• The first signs or symptoms usually are related to ear function and include tinnitus (ear noise/ringing in the ear) and often disturbances in hearing on one side.
• When large tumors cause severe pressure on the brainstem and cerebellum of the brain, vital functions that sustain life can be threatened.
• The most common method of diagnosing an acoustic tumor is by a detailed MRI of the head.
• The treatment options are observation (watchful waiting), surgical removal or radiation therapy. The choice of treatment may be based on tumor size, hearing in the ear at time of diagnosis, patient age and health, and patient preference.