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Neurofibroma

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jan 18, 2023.

Overview

A neurofibroma is a type of peripheral nerve tumor that forms soft bumps on or under the skin. A neurofibroma can develop within a major or minor nerve anywhere in the body.

This common type of benign nerve tumor tends to form centrally within the nerve. Sometimes it arises from several nerve bundles. When this happens, it's called plexiform neurofibroma.

Symptoms are often mild or absent. If the tumor presses against nerves or grows within them, you may experience pain or numbness in the affected area.

A neurofibroma usually isn't cancer. Rarely, it can become cancer.

Diagnosis

A neurofibroma can arise with no known cause, or it may appear in people with a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis type 1. These tumors are most often found in people ages 20 to 40 years.

Your health care provider will look at several factors to diagnose a neurofibroma. These may include a physical exam, your medical history, and the results of an imaging test such as a CT or MRI scan.

Imaging studies can help pinpoint where the tumor is, find very small tumors, and identify what tissues are affected or nearby. You may undergo a PET scan to get an indication of whether the tumor is benign. You also may have a biopsy done by a radiologist before surgery to diagnose the mass as being a neurofibroma.

Treatment

Neurofibromas are usually monitored or treated with surgery. Treatment isn't needed for single tumors with no symptoms. Surgery may be considered if the tumor is causing symptoms or for cosmetic reasons.

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