Thousands in the US will take part in a national campaign to raise awareness of a rare type of brain tumor called an acoustic neuroma during ANAwareness Week, May 8-14, 2016. The public is generally not aware of this type of brain tumor, which is a non-cancerous and slow-growing tumor on the hearing and balance nerves that can cause significant problems for some patients, including hearing loss.
Leading the awareness campaign is the Acoustic Neuroma Association (ANA), which is hosting the fourth annual ANAwareness Week, a national campaign to make the public aware of the symptoms and treatment options and highlight the importance of early detection of acoustic neuromas. ANAwareness Week is hosted by ANA during May, which is Better Hearing and Speech Month and Brain Tumor Awareness Month. Supporters and sponsors raise awareness of the condition and raise funds to expand programs and services by participating in runs, walks, letter-writing campaigns, social media campaigns and more.
“This type of large-scale effort is not possible without the support of the acoustic neuroma community and our sponsors,” says Karla Jacobus, ANA President.
While acoustic neuromas are rare, ANA’s Medical Advisory Board reports that occurrence is 3.5 in every 100,000 people and 5,000 are diagnosed annually in the US. The early symptoms include a reduction in hearing in the tumor-affected ear, ringing in that ear, a feeling of fullness in the affected ear, balance issues, and headaches. The symptoms of acoustic neuroma are sometimes mistaken for normal changes of aging or attributed to noise exposure earlier in life, and therefore the diagnosis is often delayed. That is why awareness campaigns such as ANAwareness Week are so important.
“One of the biggest demands we face is that people simply have never heard of acoustic neuroma and are frightened by the possibility of a brain tumor,” said ANA Chief Executive Officer Allison Feldman. “We strongly believe in public education, providing local and national support for patients, and helping patients thrive in spite of their acoustic neuroma.”
Recent medical publications suggest that the diagnosis of acoustic neuromas is rising because of advances in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI with contrast is the preferred diagnostic test for identifying acoustic neuromas. Medical recommendations include observation of the tumor, and treatment options include radiation and surgical removal. Determining the best treatment option depends on many factors, such as the size and location of the tumor, as well as the patient’s age and physical health. ANA strongly urges patients who have been diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma to get several medical opinions from physicians with substantial acoustic neuroma experience before deciding on a treatment.
The 2016 campaign sponsors are House Clinic Acoustic Neuroma Center at St. Vincent Medical Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, USC Acoustic Neuroma Center at Keck Medicine of USC, University of Colorado Acoustic Neuroma Program and Rocky Mountain Gamma Knife Center, Weill Cornell Medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center, The Facial Paralysis Institute, Mayo Clinic, University of Cincinnati Health/UC Brain Tumor Center, Accuray Incorporated, Tampa Bay Hearing and Balance Center, Rush University Medical Center, Jackie Diels Facial Retraining, BostonSight®, Johns Hopkins University Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Miles & Stockbridge Foundation Inc, and Oticon Medical.
Located in metro Atlanta, ANA is a non-profit organization founded in 1981 representing 5,000 acoustic neuroma patients, caregivers, family members and medical professionals worldwide and providing information regarding all treatment types.