Kelly Stafford, a former UGA cheerleader and wife of quarterback Matthew Stafford, was diagnosed in January with an acoustic neuroma. Acoustic neuroma is a noncancerous and slow growing tumor that develops on the main nerve leading from your inner ear to your brain. Symptoms include hearing loss and vertigo, which Stafford said happened to her more than once. Treatments for acoustic neuroma include regular monitoring, radiation and surgical removal. Stafford said Wednesday she is having surgery. In rare c

What is acoustic neuroma? Facts about the tumor Kelly Stafford will have removed

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.

» Matthew Stafford’s wife plans surgery for 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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