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What is a neurofibroma?

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A neurofibroma is a tumor growing on the nerve fibers, according to the American Brain Tumor Association. The tumor grows along nerve tissue and can be benign or malignant, says Mayo Clinic. It appears on or underneath the skin as a soft bump. However, the growth can also develop within the body in the brain, spine or nerves. Sometimes a growth can compress the nerves, resulting in loss of vision and intense pain.

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A neurofibroma is one of the symptoms of the genetic disorder neurofibromatosis 1, notes Mayo Clinic. Also known as Von Recklinghausen’s disease, neurofibromatosis 1 often manifests in childhood. At times, a benign tumor consists of many nerves, called plexiform neurofibroma. Extensive tumors on the face or particularly big growths can produce emotional discomfort and, in some cases, affect surrounding bone, skin and muscle, according to Cancer.net. Sometimes they can become cancerous, called malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors, says Washington University Neurofibromatosis Center.

Two other kinds of neurofibromas are cutaneous and spinal, according to Washington University Neurofibromatosis Center. Cutaneous neurofibromas typically manifest at the onset of puberty. Pregnancy can cause more growths and make existing ones larger. They can itch and feel delicate but remain noncancerous. Spinal neurofibromas are bigger ones that grow along the spine in adults. They can produce back pain, numbness in limbs and slight loss of strength.

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