Nerve Cancer

The nervous system is an organ system of nerves and cells. The main function of nervous system is to carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord to various parts of the body. It is made up of the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The CNS is made up of the brain and spinal cord and the PNS is made up of somatic and autonomic nervous system.

Nerve cancer refers to the growth of the cancer cells or tumors of the nerve cells. The tumors formed in cells from the nervous system may be benign or malignant. The cancerous tumor of the nerve cells affects the nerve function thereby causing pain and disability. As nervous system runs throughout the body, nerve cancer can be classified into two types.

  • Peripheral nerve cancer
  • Autonomic nervous system cancer

Example of a type of nerve cancer is Neurofibrosarcoma which involves the peripheral nerves (also called fibroneuroma).

What are the causes of nerve cancer?

The causes of nerve cancer are unclear but the risk factors that increase the risk are:

Genetic disorders, radiation exposure and occupation – workers in certain industries like oil refining and drug manufacturing can increase the risk of nerve cancer.

Symptoms of nerve cancer

Symptoms can vary depending on the location, size and type of tumor. The various symptoms of nervous system cancer are as follows:

  • Painful lump
  • Pain
  • Arm movement difficulties
  • Leg movement difficulties
  • Dementia
  • Mood swings
  • Personality changes
  • Behavioral changes
  • Visual disturbances
  • Polyneuropathy

What are the tests and procedures to diagnose nerve cancer?

Diagnosing tests play a vital role in identifying the nerve cancer or other disorders. The different tests and procedures involve the following:

  • Physical examination
  • Obtaining medical history
  • Laboratory screening tests like blood and urine tests
  • Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) Test
  • Carotid duplex
  • Discography
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Intrathecal Contrast Enhanced CAT scan
  • Electromyography (EMG)
  • Imaging techniques such as CT, MRI, PET and ultrasound imaging
  • Genetic testing to identify neurological disorders
  • Angiography: Used to detect the blockage of arteries and veins
  • Biopsy (muscle or nerve or brain biopsies)
  • Cerebrospinal fluid analysis

Treatment of Nerve Cancer

If the cancer is diagnosed early then the patient can avoid few risks. Based on the diagnostic results (stage, type, location of tumor), there are various treatment options available. For most of the nervous system tumors, the treatment involved is surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatment, neurological and neuro-radiological follow-up or a combination of these techniques.

What would be the treatment cost of nerve cancer?

The cost of cancer can be very high and if you are a person with cancer you must understand the medical expenses. Right from the beginning of the treatment, several costs are incurred such as treatment costs, drug costs, transportation to and from the cancer center and others.

Side effects of nerve cancer

The side effects caused by different nerve cancer treatment include the following:

  • Hearing loss or tinnitus
  • Vision loss or blurred or double vision
  • Speech difficulties
  • Cognitive changes including decreased memory, problem solving, and calculation
  • Changes in taste and smell
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Problems with balance, dizziness, vertigo and nausea
  • Ataxia (without coordination and movement)
  • Asthenia, a general weakness that causes an overall lack of strength
  • Hemiparesis (weakness on one side of the body); drowsiness
  • Partial or complete paralysis of different parts of the body
  • Seizures
  • Constipation, incontinence (inability to control the flow of urine), and impotence (an inability to get or maintain an erection)
  • Peripheral neuropathy

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