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NF-2 is sometimes referred to as central neurofibromatosis or bilateral acoustic neuroma disease. NF-2 is different for each person, but because it affects nerves next to the brain or spinal cord, the problems of NF-2 can cause serious disabilities. Even so, many people with NF-2 can lead relatively normal, rewarding lives and learn to overcome obstacles they may encounter.
In some people, signs of the disorder are detectable in childhood, but for the majority of people, NF-2 is not apparent until late teenage years or later. Symptoms may be easily overlooked; people with NF-2 may only have a few café-au-lait spots or skin tumors.
Everyone with NF-2 has benign tumors affecting hearing and balance (vestibular schwannoma or acoustic neuroma). Cataracts in the lens or changes in the retina of the eye are present in most people. Tumors, which push on the brain or spinal cord (meningiomas and schwannomas), as well as tumors along the peripheral nerves (schwannomas), or tumors within the spinal cord occur in many people. These problems can be serious and cause weakness or seizures.
People with NF-2 should realize that while the problems they face can be frightening, many important advances in treatment and detection of NF-2 offer considerable hope.