Neurofibromatosis is a disease many people have never heard of. This tumor-causing disorder impacts people from a very young age, often from birth, and leads to problems such as pain, disfigurement and disability that last a lifetime. That’s why the Children’s Tumor Foundation has named May 17th Neurofibromatosis Awareness Day. Take a moment to learn about this disease, so you too can spread the word and help find a cure.
What is neurofibromatosis?
Neurofibromatosis, or NF for short, is a disorder that causes the growth of neurofibromas. These non-cancerous, or benign, tumors, called neurofibromas, grow from cells that surround and support nerves, so they can grow pretty much anywhere in the body. NF can cause symptoms that vary widely from person to person, but in general they have to do with the location of the tumor growth. According to Dr. Christopher Mandigo of the Spine Hospital at the Neurological Institute of New York, “Tumors can grow and cause compression. External compression of the nervous system can cause dysfunction.” Rarely, one of these benign tumors becomes cancerous and creates another set of issues for the patient.
There are three distinct types of NF, and each type has characteristics that distinguish it from the others.