Cerebellopontine angle (CPA) tumours are abnormal tissue masses found on the posterior fossa (a small space in the skull near the brainstem and cerebellum). CPA tumours are not a specific type of tumour; rather, they are classified based on the area of the brain where it is found: triangular space in the posterior cranial fossa.
It has been indicated that CPA tumours are one of the more common tumours and are mostly benign. While there are chances for these tumours to be malignant (cancerous), the likelihood is fairly low. There are different types of CPA tumours:
The exact cause of CPA tumours remains unknown. In most cases, CPA tends to be a congenital error, and if not identified upon birth, becomes symptomatic in later stages.
Symptoms may vary depending on the type of tumour and the exact location where it is found. The symptoms presented, too, are usually a result of the tumour compressing nearby nerves in the brain. Some of the symptoms of CPA tumours may include:
The presence of pain in cases of CPA is not consistent. Where pain is present, it may manifest as sudden and intense pain on one side of the face. These are also known as trigeminal neuralgia.
Depending on the type of CPA tumour found, the risk factors vary. Generally, however, CPA tumours are quite sporadic, with no statistical significance to any particular risk factors. Regardless, some potential risks may include:
CPA tumours are easily identifiable with imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). However, symptoms are often dismissed as hearing conditions, subsequently delaying treatment. It is pertinent that CPA tumours are detected at early stages to reduce adverse outcomes such as damage to cranial nerves and brainstem compression. Though the mortality rate is generally low for CPA tumours, when left untreated, it could lead to brain haemorrhage and stroke.
Depending on the type and size of the tumour, the treatment approach may vary. Some of the treatment options currently available are:
There was a time when cerebellopontine angle (CPA) tumours were considered deadly and dangerous, with a mortality rate of over 50%. However, modern medical development has enabled prompt and safe treatment, with CPA cases rarely affiliated with mortality. The key to reducing risk is early detection.