Emergency icon Important Updates
Not all brain or nerve tumors are cancer.

Some tumors, like a schwannoma, are often benign (not cancerous). But they can press on the nerves in your head, causing problems with your balance and hearing, swallowing and moving your eyes. You might also have pain, pressure, tingling, numbness or facial paralysis.

So even though they aren’t cancer, schwannomas can still cause a bunch of problems, which can be overwhelming and make you anxious. We understand that — and we’ll guide you through your schwannoma diagnosis and treatment with skilled, compassionate care every step of the way.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Schwannoma Care?

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Comprehensive treatment:

Cleveland Clinic has one of the largest, most comprehensive and specialized brain, spine and nerve tumor programs in the United States. We use a team approach to care for you. Providers from different specialties work together to personalize your treatment plan based on your unique needs. Meet our team.

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Minimally invasive options:

We’ve pioneered a minimally invasive schwannoma treatment that lets us remove your tumor through your nose instead of through an opening in your skull. It can mean faster recovery, less time in the hospital and a lower risk of complications after surgery.

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Virtual visits:

Not all appointments need to be in person. Our convenient, online virtual visits let you and your provider meet using a smartphone, computer or tablet.

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National recognition:

Cleveland Clinic is a trusted healthcare leader. We're recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for our expertise and care.

Schwannoma Diagnosis at Cleveland Clinic

A schwannoma tumor slowly grows from cells called Schwann cells that surround the nerves in your peripheral nervous system. There are different types of schwannomas, based on where they are in your head (or rarely, other parts of your body). The most common type is a vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma) inside your inner ear.

To diagnose your schwannoma, we’ll need to understand exactly where it is, what nerves it may affect and if it’s cancerous.

At your first visit, your providers will go over your medical records and look at any previous test results. They’ll talk with you about your symptoms and your personal and family medical histories. You’ll have a physical exam. Your providers will also likely order some tests to help them confirm a diagnosis.

Imaging tests

These tests let us take a closer look inside your head so we can see the tumor better. We might use CT scans to look at bone structures or do an MRI to get pictures of the soft tissues. You might also have an ultrasound, which can help us find schwannomas under your skin.


We might do a biopsy to see if your tumor is a schwannoma. We may use a needle to take a small sample of the tumor and send it to a lab. Our pathologists (cell and tissue experts) will study the sample under a microscope to figure out what kind of tumor it is.

Meet Our Schwannoma Team

If you choose to come to Cleveland Clinic for schwannoma diagnosis and treatment, you’ll have a team of expert healthcare providers who’ll work together to help you. Depending on your symptoms and needs, this team could include:


Our healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio and Florida.

Schwannoma Treatment at Cleveland Clinic

Your personalized schwannoma treatment plan depends on your test results, age, health, where the tumor is, how big it is and if it’s cancerous or benign. Based on these things, your provider might recommend:

Watchful waiting

If your tumor is growing slowly and is benign, or if it isn’t causing symptoms, your provider might decide to keep an eye on it instead of treating it. They’ll do regular testing to see if it’s getting bigger or starts causing troubling symptoms. If it does, then they’ll talk with you about removing the schwannoma.

Minimally invasive surgery

We often recommend surgery to stop the tumor from growing and prevent symptoms that can happen when the tumor presses on surrounding nerves. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered an innovative, minimally invasive procedure where we can remove the entire tumor through your nose or near your ear without disturbing your nearby nerves, tissues and blood vessels.

This treatment has many advantages over traditional schwannoma surgery, including:

  • Avoiding traditional invasive methods like a craniotomy, facial incisions (cuts) and entry through your eye.
  • Eliminating the need to move tissues in your face, eyes and brain to get to the tumor.
  • Helping with balance, hearing and more after surgery.
  • Faster recovery and less time in the hospital.

If the tumor is near your skull base, your surgery team will insert an endoscope (tube with a camera and light on the end) and surgical tools through your nostrils into your nasal cavity to reach the tumor. As they work, the camera and a computer navigation system will help them avoid critical structures. The system also helps them keep an eye on your nerve activity during surgery so they can see if any nerve is being manipulated or touched.

Our goal is to remove the tumor safely with minimal impact on surrounding structures. You may only need a day or two in the hospital after this minimally invasive surgery. We’ll want to check to see that we removed the entire tumor, make sure you’re healing well and watch for any recurrence (tumor coming back). We can do this with endoscopy and MRIs.

Other treatments

Surgery is usually the best treatment for a schwannoma, but other treatment options may include:

Taking the Next Step

It can be hard to hear you have a brain or nerve tumor. The good news is that schwannomas are slow growing, usually benign — and treatable. Cleveland Clinic has the experienced providers and advanced, innovative treatments you need to move forward in life — with better balance, hearing and overall health.

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s schwannomas experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.


Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s schwannomas experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.

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