Nerve Tumors

Nerve tumors can form in the peripheral nerves anywhere in your body. They usually are not malignant (cancerous). These tumors usually grow slowly and can form inside the nerve tissue. Nerve tumors cause the nerve to gradually expand.

There are three major types of nerve tumors:

  • Neurofibroma: Most common in people who have the genetic disorder neurofibromatosis.
  • Schwannoma: Nerve sheath tumors that can occur in people who don't have another disorder. They can also occur in people who have neurofibromatosis or schwannomatosis.
  • Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor: Very aggressive, cancerous nerve sheath tumors. They can occur in association with neurofibromatosis Type 1.


Symptoms often include:

  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Burning or tingling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Dizziness or loss of balance


OHSU's Nerve Center offers a wide range of neurodiagnostic (nerve diagnosis) services to evaluate your anatomy (structure of your body) and see if your brain, spinal cord, muscles, nerves and blood flow are functioning properly.

Our goal is to offer reliable and complete testing to help diagnose, manage and track your health condition. 

Learn more about diagnostic procedures


Treatment is based on your individual situation and needs.

Non-surgical treatment

If your nerve tumor is small, we may advise you to have regular check-ups and imaging tests to measure the growth of your tumor.

Surgical treatment

If you have an aggressive tumor, such as malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor, we might suggest that you have it removed immediately.

If your tumor is slower growing, such as a schwannoma tumor, we may monitor your tumor growth with imaging studies (CT, MRI or other imaging scans) over time before we suggest surgery.


Your individual response to treatment and recovery varies based on:

  • Your age, general health and medical history
  • Extent of your condition (size and effects of your tumor)
  • How well certain medications, procedures or treatments work for you