Kim got an MRI about a month ago. The doctor looked at the film and said, “You have an acoustic neuroma.” We said, “What’s that?” We are now learning.
Basically, she has a benign growth (aka “tumor”) on her left auditory nerve. It is 11mm wide and 19mm long (think small acorn). We had an appointment with the surgeon this past Wednesday, and we have an appointment with the radiation specialist this coming Thursday (the 27th).
The surgeon told us that, with an AN, we have three options:
1. Observe it.
Observing it is viable for people who are old, or who have a terminal illness of some other kind. The tumor is slow growing, and would take about 20 years of growth before it kills the patient (due to compression of the brain stem).
Surgery would involve the doctor making a 3 or 4 inch cut behind her ear, drilling a hole, and going in to get the tumor. This would render her entirely deaf in that ear, and would put her out of commission for approx 3 weeks. This would definitely fix the problem, though.
Radiation (we haven’t seen this doctor yet, but the surgeon gave us a little heads-up) would involve Kim lying on a CT Scan-style table with a “football helmet” or some such on her head, while they shoot very precise beams of radiation at the tumor. They can do this in one dose (which has a 80% chance of successfully stopping the growth), or over four weeks in smaller doses (called “fractionated radiation”). The fractionated kind is supposed to be “not as effective” but it has a higher possibility of saving her existing hearing (she’s about 50% deaf in her left ear now). I went to this website,
Fractionated Stereotactic Radiation for Acoustic Neuroma, and it gives a lot of info about the options available.
We will talk to the radiation guy, and then we make our decision about what Kim will have done. If it’s surgery, it will need to be done in about six or seven weeks.