Health A-Z

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What Is It?

Neurofibromatosis (NF) is nervous system disease that causes skin defects and tumors on nerve tissues. It can also lead to other problems. The condition usually worsens over time. Although there is no known cure, treatment can help control symptoms.

The nerve tissue tumors begin in cells that protect nerves. These tumors can vary in size and occur anywhere in the body, including the skin, inner ear, brain, and spinal cord. Most are not cancerous, although some may turn cancerous over time.

The most common type of tumor is called a neurofibroma. This is a noncancerous growth that usually develops on or under the skin. The other common type of tumor is called a Schwannoma. These growths form in cells that help insulate nerves.

NF is a genetic disorder. Genetic disorders are caused by changes (mutations) in genes. They usually run in families.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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