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Symptoms of Facial Nerve Cancer and Treatment Procedure

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Posted on: 03/18/24

Facial nerve cancer, also known as facial nerve schwannoma or facial nerve neuroma, is a rare condition characterized by the growth of tumors on or around the facial nerve. The facial nerve, also called the seventh cranial nerve, is responsible for controlling the muscles of facial expression and transmitting taste sensations from the front two-thirds of the tongue. When cancer affects this nerve, it can lead to various symptoms that can impact facial function and quality of life. Understanding the symptoms and treatment options for facial nerve cancer is essential for early detection and effective management of the condition.

Symptoms of Facial Nerve Cancer

Facial weakness or paralysis is the first and one of the common symptoms. Patients will notice the development of weakness or paralysis on one side of the face. This can manifest as drooping of the mouth, inability to close the eye fully, and difficulty making facial expressions.

Facial Pain or Numbness

Some individuals with facial nerve cancer may experience pain, tingling, or numbness in the affected area. This can be due to compression of the nerve by the tumor or irritation of nearby structures.

Hearing Loss or Tinnitus

Tumors affecting the facial nerve may also affect the nearby auditory nerve, leading to hearing loss or ringing in the ears (tinnitus). This can occur if the tumor grows large enough to press on the structures of the inner ear.

Changes in Taste

Since the facial nerve also plays a role in transmitting taste sensations from the tongue, individuals with facial nerve cancer may experience alterations in taste perception or loss of taste on the affected side of the tongue.

Facial Swelling or Mass

As the tumor grows, it may cause swelling or a palpable mass in the affected area, typically near the ear or along the course of the facial nerve.

Treatment Options for Facial Nerve Cancer

Surgical removal of the tumor is often the primary treatment for facial nerve cancer. The goal of surgery is to completely excise the tumor while preserving as much of the facial nerve functions as possible. In some cases, partial or total removal of the affected facial nerve may be necessary, which can result in permanent facial weakness or paralysis.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy may be used as an adjunct treatment to surgery or as the primary treatment for facial nerve cancer in cases where surgery is not feasible or if the tumor is unrespectable. Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to target and destroy cancer cells while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Chemotherapy

In some cases, chemotherapy may be used in combination with surgery and/or radiation therapy to help shrink the tumor or slow its growth. Chemotherapy drugs are typically administered intravenously or orally and work by killing rapidly dividing cancer cells.

Facial nerve rehabilitation

Following treatment for facial nerve cancer, individuals may benefit from facial nerve rehabilitation to improve facial function and minimize long-term complications such as facial weakness or paralysis. This may include exercises, physical therapy, and other interventions aimed at promoting facial muscle strength and coordination.


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