Acoustic Neuroma

Acoustic neuromas are not cancer. They do not spread to other body systems, but they may continue to grow and press down on important structures in the skull.

An acoustic neuroma is a benign tumor that develops on a nerve that affects your hearing and balance (eighth cranial nerve).  The tumor usually starts growing in the internal auditory canal, and presses against the hearing and balance nerves as it grows.

They usually grow slowly and except in rare circumstances involve only one side of the head. Common symptoms include:

  • Abnormal sensation of movement (vertigo)
  • Hearing loss in the affected ear
  • Ringing (tinnitus) in the affected ear

Acoustic neuroma has several treatment options including observation, surgical resection, stereotactic radiosurgery, and fractionated radiotherapy. OHSU radiation oncologists work with neurologists, neurosurgeons, otolaryngologists, audiologists, radiologists and other doctors to personalize and tailor your treatment plan to your needs.

We use stereotactic radiosurgery to treat acoustic neuroma for:

  • Small tumors so that radiation damage to surrounding tissues can be minimized
  • Elderly or sick patients who are unable to tolerate brain surgery
  • Tumors that can’t be safely removed in their entirety during brain surgery. Some of the tumor must be left behind and radiosurgery treats the remaining tumor

Why use stereotactic radiosurgery?

The goal of radiation therapy is to slow or stop the tumor growth, not to cure or remove the tumor.