Kelly Stafford, a former UGA cheerleader and wife of former UGA quarterback Matthew Stafford, announced Wednesday she will undergo surgery to remove a brain tumor.
The tumor is called an acoustic neuroma. Here are five things to know about it.
1. It isn’t cancer
Acoustic neuroma is a “noncancerous and usually slow-growing tumor that develops on the main (vestibular) nerve leading from your inner ear to your brain,” according to the Mayo Clinic. It usually arises from the Schwann cells covering this nerve.
2. It can cause hearing loss
Branches of the nerve directly influence hearing. The loss of hearing is usually slow, and occurs only on one ear or worsens on one ear more than the other.
3. It can cause loss of balance, or vertigo
Kelly Stafford said she experienced her first spell of vertigo in early January. When it happened while she was holding Hunter, their daughter who was born in August, she went to the emergency room. After more vertigo episodes, she got an MRI, which discovered the tumor.
4. It is caused by a malfunctioning gene
According to the Mayo Clinic, the cause of acoustic neuromas “appears to be a malfunctioning gene on chromosome 22. Normally, this gene produces a tumor suppressor protein that helps control the growth of Schwann cells covering the nerves.”
5. It is rarely life-threatening
Although the tumor can interfere with vital functions, the Mayo Clinic reports it is rare one will grow large enough to compress the brainstem and become life-threatening.
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