Acoustic neuroma, also called vestibular schwannoma, is a noncancerous tumour usually seen in middle-aged people. It develops gradually on the acoustic nerve that leads from the inner ear to the brain, which controls hearing and balance. As an acoustic neuroma grows, it leads to hearing loss and problems with balance. There are no established causes for this condition, except for a malfunctioning gene. Some forms of the cancer are associated with an inherited disorder called neurofibromatosis type II.
The common symptoms of acoustic neuroma include loss of hearing in one ear accompanied by a ringing sensation called tinnitus, loss of balance, dizziness, facial weakness and numbness. Acoustic neuroma is diagnosed with audiometry (hearing test) and CT or MRI scans.
Treatment depends on factors such as size, growth and location of the tumour, age and your physical health. If the tumour is small, your doctor usually monitors it with regular imaging and hearing tests at intervals of 6 to 12 months. Other treatment methods include stereotactic radiosurgery (non-invasive treatment that delivers precise gamma radiation at the tumour site) and surgical removal of the tumour.