Peripheral nerve sheath tumors (PNST)

Nerves are like cables that carry electrical signals from our brain to the rest of our body. These impulses help us feel sensations, move our muscles and maintain autonomic functions (breathing, blood pressure, sweating or digest food). They run throughout our entire body and form a network. There are two types of nerves: 1. Spinal nerves and 2. Cranial nerves. Schwannomas are the most frequent type of PNST. Schwannomas are benign tumours. Most patients have a single schwannoma, however some patients have a positive family history for schwannomas and have more schwannomas in their body. This is called schwannomatosis.

Peripheral nerve sheath tumors can occur in every nerve of the body. The arms and legs are most often affected. In the head region the auditory nerve is most often affected, this is called a vestibular schwannoma. To learn more about this specific nerve tumor, go to the page about vestibular schwannoma on this website, you find the link at the bottom of this page. Another relative frequent PNST are neurofibromas. Neurofibromas occur in patients with Neurofibromatosis type 1. 


A peripheral nerve sheath tumor usually presents with a swelling or mass. Most patient have pain around this mass or from the affected nerve. When touched it can cause a tingling or burning sensation along the nerve. Usually the nerve function itself is not damaged with a normal muscle strength and normal feeling.


Sometimes PNSTs give severe complaints, urging intervention. Most PNSTs can be safely removed surgically.

Within UNCH, both Haaglanden Medical Center and Leiden Nerve Center both are specialised in the treatment of patients with PNST. The Leiden Nerve Center is the national intervention center for surgical treatment of neurofibromas. Familial tumor syndromes (NF1, NF2, schwannomatosis) and malignant nerve sheath tumours are treated in LUMC. For more information please check the ZenuwCentrum website