Treatment and Prognosis of Malignant Schwannoma
Standard treatment modes include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Depending on the size, location and extent of the tumor, surgical removal of the tumor aims to decompress the spinal cord which is affected by the mass.
Complete removal will result in improvement in the motor and sensory deficits brought about by the tumor. However, if the tumor has spread or is deemed inoperable, radiation may be done to shrink the tumor and reach sites that cannot be operated on. Chemotherapy may also be given to kill cancer cells. These treatment modalities may be done repeatedly and in combination as needed.
Risks of surgery include bleeding and paralysis resulting from excision of part of the spinal cord and nerves. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy have their own side effects owing to the fact that these procedures affect both cancer cells and healthy cells. These result in nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, weakness, digestive problems, and others. These side-effects are temporary and may be decreased by giving the patient a period of rest between sessions of radio- and chemotherapy.
Aside from these, patients who suffer from the effects of the tumor and its treatment are also given physical therapy and occupational therapy to be able to return to normal function. Supportive and palliative care may also be given in advanced cases.
Much research is still being done to find ways of preventing and treating brain and spinal cord tumors. Among these are the development of vaccines, immune therapy, and biological markers.
Effectiveness of treatment and prognosis depend on the stage of the disease, early diagnosis, age and the general health of the patient, aside from the character of the tumor itself.