Tumors that grow on nerve tissue are referred to as neurofibromas, which can grow on almost any of the nerves throughout the body. The most common type is referred to as NF1 and is a congenital birthmark. Plexiform neurofibromas are a form of congenital tumor or birthmark, a complication of NF1 where the tumor grows large and can become malignant. At Vascular Birthmark Institute in New York, we diagnose and offer treatment for our patients with plexiform neurofibromas.
Diagnosing plexiform neurofibromas usually occurs in childhood. Children may be born with several light brown patches that can indicate neurofibromas, or have freckling in the groin or armpit area appear around ages 3-5. With plexiform neurofibromas, the tumor can grow on nerve tissue anywhere in the body, including the head, neck, spine and limbs. The symptoms can depend on what nerves and organs the tumor impacts. An MRI can be performed to view the extent of the tumor and its impact on the surrounding tissues, organs and nerves.
Treating Plexiform Neurofibromas
These large tumors can be disfiguring as they grow larger. Another issue with plexiform neurofibromas is they are at higher risk of malignancy. Approximately 10% of plexiform neurofibromas become cancerous. Treatment of these congenital birthmarks or tumors is usually removal, when possible, through surgery. However, some tumors can only be partially removed due to their connection to spinal or nerve tissue. In those cases, other treatments can be explored to limit symptoms and discomfort.
If your child was born with plexiform neurofibromas, find out more about the possible treatment and removal options by visiting our clinic in New York City. Our team of pediatric plastic surgeons and vascular specialists are the leaders in innovative treatments for rare birthmark and vascular tumors. Contact us today to schedule your consultation with a plexiform neurofibromas expert.