Key Difference – Neurofibroma vs Schwannoma
Schwanommas and neurofibromas are tumors arising from the nervous tissues. The key difference between neurofibroma and Schwannoma is that neurofibromas are made of different types of cells such as Schwann cells, fibroblasts, etc. while schwannomas contain only Schwann cells.
Neurofibromas are a benign group of nervous sheath tumors that are heterogeneous in nature. Schwannomas, on the other hand, are a benign group of tumors arising from the peripheral nerves that are characterized by the presence of Schwann cells in different stages of differentiation.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Neurofibroma
3. What is Schwannoma
4. Similarities Between Neurofibroma and Schwannoma
5. Side by Side Comparison – Neurofibroma vs Schwannoma in Tabular Form
What is Neurofibroma?
Neurofibromas are a benign group of nervous sheath tumors. These are more heterogeneous in nature than schwannomas and are made of neoplastic Schwann cells that are mixed with perineurial cells such as fibroblasts.
Neurofibromas can appear as isolated lesions or secondary to neurofibromatosis. Depending on the growth pattern of the tumors neuromas are divided into three main categories.
- Superficial Cutaneous Neuromas
These are usually pedunculated and can be either single or multiple.
- Diffuse Neurofibromas
This variety is typically associated with neurofibromatosis type 1 and is characterized by the presence of plaque-like lesions that are elevated from the skin level.
- Plexiform Neurofibromas
Plexiform neurofibromas arise in either superficial or deep structures of the body.
Morphology of Neurofibromas
Localized cutaneous neurofibromas are found either on the skin or within the subcutaneous fat. They are well-delineated lesions and are usually encapsulated. Diffuse neurofibromas are similar to localized cutaneous neurofibromas in most aspects. What differentiates them from cutaneous lesions is their infiltrative pattern of growth. There is a Meissner’s corpuscle like appearance due to the presence of collections of cells. Plexiform neurofibromas grow within the nerve fascicles and expand them while entrapping the associated axons.
If neurofibromas are associated with neurofibromatosis the patients can have other features such as,
- Learning difficulties
- Malignant transformation
Surgical removal of the neurofibromas has to be done if they become symptomatic.
What is Schwannoma?
Schwannomas are a benign group of tumors arising from the peripheral nerves that are characterized by the presence of Schwann cells in different stages of differentiation.
Schwannomas can be seen in neurofibromatosis type 2. An association of these tumors with mutations of NF2 gene has been established.
Schwannomas are well demarcated and encapsulated masses that abut the nerve without really invading into the nerve. They contain loose and dense areas of tissues known as Antoni A and Antoni B respectively. Another hallmark feature is the presence of Verocay bodies which are nuclear-free zones that lie in between regions of palisading nuclei.
- Most of the symptoms are due to the compression of adjacent structures such as brain and spinal cord. There can be features of raised intracranial pressure and various neurological deficits depending on the area that is compressed.
- A majority of schwannomas occur in the cerebellopontine angle. Vital nerves including facial nerve, vestibulocochlear nerve, and glossopharyngeal nerve arise from this region. Consequently, a compression of these nerves can give rise to the respective cranial nerve palsies. Tinnitus and hearing loss are the features of acoustic neuromas.
Surgical resection of the tumor is the definitive cure.
What are the Similarities Between Neurofibroma and Schwannoma?
- Both are benign tumors arising in the nervous tissues.
- There is a strong association with neurofibromatosis
- Surgical resection of the tumor is the definitive cure for both types of tumors.
What is the Difference Between Neurofibroma and Schwannoma?
Neurofibroma vs Schwannoma
|Neurofibromas are a benign group of nervous sheath tumors.||Schwanommas are a benign group of tumors arising from the peripheral nerves that are characterized by the presence of Schwann cells in different stages of differentiation.|
|These are more heterogeneous in nature than Schwanommas and are made of neoplastic Schwann cells that are mixed with perineurial cells such as fibroblasts.||Schwanommas are made of Schwann cells in various stages of differentiation.|
|If neurofibromas are associated with neurofibromatosis the patients can have other features such as,
Summary – Schwanommas vs Neurofibromas
Schwanommas and neurofibromas are tumors arising from the nervous tissues. Schwanommas contain only Schwann cells but neurofibromas contain different cell types including Schwann cells and fibroblasts. This is the major difference between neurofibromas and Schwanommas.
1. Kumar, Parveen J., and Michael L. Clark. Kumar & Clark clinical medicine. Edinburgh: W.B. Saunders, 2009.
1. “Neurofibroma02” By Klaus D. Peter, Gummersbach, Germany – Self-photographed (CC BY 3.0 de) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Schwannoma” By Dr. Roshan Nasimudeen – Department of Pathology, Government Medical College, Kozhikode, (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia