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A to Z: Neurofibromatosis

May also be called: NF

Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a neurocutaneous syndrome that can cause growth of non-cancerous tumors on nerve tissue, producing skin and bone abnormalities.  (A neurocutaneous syndrome is a genetic, or inherited, disorder that leads to tumor growth in various parts of the body.)

More to Know

NF is defined by tumors, called neurofibromas, that grow along nerves or on or under the skin. As they grow, they can press on vital areas of the body, causing problems. NF can affect many parts of the body, including the brain, spinal cord, nerves, skin, and other body systems.

The first noticeable sign is almost always the presence of brown café au lait spots, which don't hurt, itch, or progress to anything more serious. Neurofibromas often are noticed on various parts of the body, beginning at the arms, around 10 years of age.

Many neurofibromas can be removed surgically, and the vast majority are benign (noncancerous).

Keep in Mind

There's no specific cure for NF, but tumors usually can be removed and complications treated. About half the children with NF develop learning disabilities and might need extra help in the classroom.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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