Author Topic: Just learned I have an AN  (Read 9397 times)

neetze1

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Just learned I have an AN
« on: January 01, 2013, 11:54:42 pm »
Hello,
I learned on Friday that I have an AN.  I learned of this over the phone late Friday evening by my ENT. He advised me to go on line and learn what I could.   I have a follow up appt on the 8th.  I had requested the MRI report and while I dont understand most of it, it lists the size as 24 mm x 34mm.  I have been reading this site and have learned that I am past the watch and wait phase.  I am scared and am not sure what I am going to do next.  I have not informed my extended family yet (only my two grown children) my friends or coworkers.  I dont have any answers to the questions I will be asked.  I am also too emotional to talk right now.  I assume I will be going to Philadelphia for a consult however, I am not seeing too many posts about my options there.  Can anyone offer any advice about Jefferson?  I have been reading a lot about "The House" in CA.  Is that the best place to go?  Do you have to travel back to CA for follow up visits? I am not sure how my insurance would work for out of area.  I am assuming I would have a 20% copay. 

BTW- I am 53 years old and have ringing and fullness in my left ear and some ringing in the right when I lay down.  My hearing test showed I have 30% loss on the left side and 15% on the right.  I live in South Jersey.
Thank you for any advice or guidance.
Anita
South Jersey
Translab 3/20/13 at HEI for 3.5 centimeter
Dr. Luxford, Dr. Lekovic, Dr. Stefan

PaulW

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Re: Just learned I have an AN
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2013, 06:23:48 am »
If your tumour volume is less than 12.5 cm3 radiation may also be an option.
The rule of thumb is less than 3 cm . But as your tumour is 2.4cm in the other direction, this maybe worth investigating. Some doctors count the tail in the IAC that adds 1cm that some doctors don't count.
10x5x5mm AN
Sudden Partial hearing loss 5/28/10
Diagnosed 7/4/10
CK 7/27/10
2/21/11 Swelling 13x6x7mm
10/16/11 Hearing returned, balance improved. Feel totally back to normal most days
3/1/12 Sudden Hearing loss, steroids, hearing back.
9/16/13 Life is just like before my AN. ALL Good!

CHD63

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Re: Just learned I have an AN
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2013, 08:13:00 am »
Hi neetze1 and welcome to this forum of caring and supportive new friends .....

Hearing the diagnosis of an AN is a scary time.  Try to relax and take your time as you wade through the various options you may have.

I went to Dr. Friedman at House Ear Clinic in Los Angeles for my last surgery and it was the best decision I ever made.  I live in West Virginia so my husband and I flew to LA and back.  There was no need to go back there for follow-ups.  You must stay for 10 days post-op, which is when most issues come if they are going to happen.  I had none and flew home with no problem.  Dr. Friedman would have arranged for local follow-up had I needed it.

You may want to send your MRI CD to House for a free consultation, even if you do not go there.  See:  http://www.houseearclinic.com/consultation/acousticneuroma

My insurance covered the entire thing.  Check with the insurance staff at House to see if they have an agreement with your plan.  Since this is a very unique tumor, you want the medical expertise of doctors who have treated many acoustic neuromas, not just any brain tumor.

Many thoughts and prayers and ask any questions you may have.

Clarice
Right MVD for trigeminal neuralgia, 1994, Pittsburgh, PA
Left retrosigmoid 2.6 cm AN removal, February, 2008, Duke U
Tumor regrew to 1.3 cm in February, 2011
Translab AN removal, May, 2011 at HEI, Friedman & Schwartz
Oticon Ponto Pro abutment implant at same time; processor added August, 2011

robinb

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Re: Just learned I have an AN
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2013, 12:09:26 pm »
Hi -

I was diagnosed right before thanksgiving and thanks to my ent doc's knowledge of AN and options, I was not toally freaked out at all. He immediately put me in touch with another patient of his that had AN and I sopke to him that day. Fortunatley, I had the benefit of all his research.

Everyone's treatment deciosn is personal to them. I live in CA so was able to personally see Dr. Friedman at House. I sent my MRI to Dr. Chang at Stanford (cyberknife) and Dr. Kondziolka (NYU-Gammaknife) and Dr. Lunsford (UPMC-Gammaknife). I spoke at length with each of them. All this at no charge, except for House as I did go there personally for the consultation.

Based on the size of my tumor (a little smaller than yours) and hearing loss (a little greater than yours) I have ruled out surgery as medically unnecessary and not worth the risk of compications, down time and loss of hearing. I have chosen UPMC Gamma knife and set to go there for procedure on January 24th.

I would be happy to share my thoughts and notes if you want to contact me directly. This organziation is a wonderful resource, so I recommend reading all you can and speaking to as many people with your similar circumstance as possible so you can make the best decsion for you.
AN Diagnosed 11-2012 right side
13mm x 7.2 mm
Gamma Knife 1/24/13
UPMC w/Dr. Lunsford
Officially a postie toastie!
See my treatment journal at: http://www.anausa.org/smf/index.php?topic=18291.0

Chances3

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Re: Just learned I have an AN
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2013, 12:29:18 pm »
Hi Neetze1,

I'm really sorry to hear about your tumor.  I was diagnosed when I was 54 years old.  I had a small tumor, but it was wrecking havoc with me, having full blown vertigo attacks with full spins.  I chose surgery over radiation, and I didn't let my age stop me from that decision.  I've been where you are now, trying to learn, being frightened etc.  I live in Monmouth County NJ, but I work in Manhattan, so I access all my medical care in the city.  This site is the greatest, and I am sure many other members will post, who have stories to tell about their journeys and hopefully take some of the fear we have about these things.

My advice to you, is to definitely seek other surgeons, and learn as much as you can, so you can make the very best informed decision that is best for you.  Don't hesitate to post more questions, you will get replies.

Stay strong,

Bob

AZ JB

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Re: Just learned I have an AN
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2013, 02:40:19 pm »
Hi Neetzie1,

My husband, Bob, was diagnosed with a 1.4 cm AN just before Thanksgiving in 2011.  I found this site the very first day we learned it was AN & we muddled through on our up & down roller coaster until a decision on treatment & doctor became clear.  Clarice (The Great Encourager) said that would happen, but we became so overwhelmed we couldn't see or think straight.  We had consultations with 2 doctors at two different facilities here in Phoenix, AZ, & were told by both that due to the size & location of his tumor (& also his age -- 59 at the time), that Bob was a good candidate for radiation.  We also sent Bob's MRI results to Dr. Friedman at House & Dr. Chang at Stanford.  We have a strong faith & prayed God would open &/or close doors for us along the way.  Well, in our phone consultation with Dr. Friedman, we found out Bob was not a candidate for the only surgery he might have considered, so though we took an instant liking to Dr. Friedman, that door closed.  Once we found that out, it became pretty clear that radiation was the treatment for him, so it was then just a matter of what kind & where he would have it done.  When we first began exploring options, Stanford was not a provider with our insurance, but last Jan. they became in our network (door opened).  We were impressed with how quickly & thoroughly Dr. Chang responded to our emails, so we flew there (Stanford) for a consultation & we were both so impressed with him, & how highly he was regarded by others on this site, that Bob made his decision on the spot.  So many things factor in -- size, location of your tumor, your age, your insurance, the ability you have for extended "down time" if you would end up needing it, & it's of the utmost importance that your doctor is very experienced in the procedure you choose & that you have a good rapore with him/her.  Something else that really helped us was to visit with doctors who do all the different types of procedures -- that way they won't be biased in their recommendation.  Also, take advantage of all the great research & opinions of people who have gone before you on this site; it was invaluable to us.  That's why I'm back on here today & responding to your post -- to try to give you any tips that might be helpful, & to to let you know it will come together for you.  Bob had his CK procedure done early in Aug. & is doing quite well -- still very tired, pretty constant tinnitus, & some other minor things, but we're grateful it is what it is!!!  Oh, another thing, we haven't found it to be a problem at all to have had the procedure done in CA with our being in AZ.  One of the docs. we consulted with here in Phoenix said if we opted to go out of state, that he would be available to us for follow-ups if it was necessary, but so far it hasn't been.  Our best wishes to you -- it will come together, & it will be ok.      Judy (Bob's wife)   

jaylogs

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Re: Just learned I have an AN
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2013, 07:20:45 pm »
Hi and welcome to our rather exclusive club, where everyone is a VIP! :)  You'll not find a better place for info, encouragement, and a great place to vent if you need to. We are not doctors and as you no doubt are probably discovering, everyone AN is unique and the outcome will always vary.  Just get some differing opinions, such as what Clarice suggested with sending your info to House Ear Clinic.  Like she said, you don't have to go there, but it'll be nice to see hear what they say as a course of treatment.  When I first got my AN, someone on here told me that whatever decision I make, if it feels right and I feel good about it, then it's the right decision.  So hang in there, we've all been through what you are going through and we'll help out as we can.  Let us know how it goes, ok? Take care!
Jay
8.1mm x 7.8mm x 8.2mm AN, Left Ear, Middle Fossa surgery performed on 12/9/09 at House by Drs. Brackmann/Schwartz. Some hearing left, but got BAHA 2/25/11 (Ponto Pro) To see how I did through my Middle Fossa surgery, click here: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jaylogston

Glenda

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Re: Just learned I have an AN
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2013, 07:45:42 pm »
Hi Neetzie1,
Welcome to this site.  You will find much information and caring here.  My AN was found Jan 2008 when I was 49 and I remember how scared I was at the time.  I was in wait and watch until I just had surgery 4 1/2 weeks ago.  I had been sending my MRI's to House until this past year.  I had really wanted to go there for surgery but my husband is disabled and though I have wonderful insurance I knew we could not afford the trip and expense of staying there 10 days.  I ended up having my surgery in NC and have had good results so far, I loved my doctors and they could not have been more caring.  It is a personal decision as others have said. I went back and forth over the years between radiation and surgery and in the end decided I wanted it out but it was a hard decision.  Take your time and read about the options and make a decision that feels right to you.  Know that we are all here for you and willing to answer any questions you may have.  Hang in there!  Hugs to you!!((()))
Glenda
Diagnosed 5 mm AN  Jan 2008
Deep in IAC
June 2010 7 mm
July 2011 8.5 mm
July 2012 1.1 cm
Nov 28, 2012 Mid Fossa Surgery Wake Forest Baptist Hospital-Winston-Salem NC, Dr John Wilson and Dr Eric Oliver


SSD tinnitus dizziness

neetze1

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Re: Just learned I have an AN
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2013, 10:36:53 pm »
Thank you all for your replies.  They are helpful and comforting!  I do plan to send my MRI CD to House.  I am very interested in knowing their opinion.  It is nice to know that there might be a chance of it being covered  if I choose to go there for surgery.  I have read that radiation might cause the tumor to swell and I am not sure if that will cause more problems for me.  Right now, I do not have any problems, except for this very annoying buzzing in my ear (and the hearing loss of course).  The thought of vertigo scares me. I can not stand that sensation.  I wont even go on a merry-go-round! 
I think I would prefer the radiation over surgery  (because of the down time and the thought of a hole being drilled into my head is not very appealing.)

I still have to have the follow up appt with the ENT.  I called his office today to see if we could start the process of setting up a consult with whomever he was going to recommend and I kind of (well not really kind-of, did) sense an attitude of "this is no big deal" from them.  They are planning on sending me to University of Pennsylvania to a Dr. Lukinstein.  I don't see Penn on this site as a recommended facility.   Any thoughts or experiences with him or Penn?  Should you go someplace that is not on the list?

Again, thank you all for your replies and for the warm welcome into the "club."  I am very grateful you are here.   You are giving me encouragement that I can get through this. Just how much it is going to change my life is what is unknown.
Thank you!
Anita
South Jersey
Translab 3/20/13 at HEI for 3.5 centimeter
Dr. Luxford, Dr. Lekovic, Dr. Stefan

PaulW

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Re: Just learned I have an AN
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2013, 12:03:59 am »
The swelling from radiation is temporary. Not all tumours swell, many dont, and most will shrink to be smaller than there original size.
10x5x5mm AN
Sudden Partial hearing loss 5/28/10
Diagnosed 7/4/10
CK 7/27/10
2/21/11 Swelling 13x6x7mm
10/16/11 Hearing returned, balance improved. Feel totally back to normal most days
3/1/12 Sudden Hearing loss, steroids, hearing back.
9/16/13 Life is just like before my AN. ALL Good!

leapyrtwins

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Re: Just learned I have an AN
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2013, 06:48:56 pm »
Hi, neetz.  Welcome to the Forum.  Sorry to hear about your AN - diagnosis can be a very scary thing - but you'll get through this.  In a way those of us here are truly blessed - as 99.9% of ANs are benign; there are MUCH worse things you can be told you have.

House is a great place, but it's not the only nor is it necessarily the best place to have your AN treated.  Patients who have their surgery @ House have outcomes that are just as good as those of us who had surgery elsewhere - and in some causes lot of us who had surgery elsewhere had better outcomes.  AN surgery, like life, is a crap shoot - no one can guarantee you anything 100%.  That said, it's vital to have treatment (be it radiation or surgery) by a doctor or a team of doctors who are experienced and qualified.  A great place to start is on this website with a list of docs/facilities around the country that the ANA has certified as Centers of Excellence.

In your area Jefferson is a great choice - and there are numerous wonderful docs in New York.  Why travel across the country when you have great options so much closer to home?

Just my two cents,

Jan
Retrosig 5/31/07 Drs. Battista & Kazan (Hinsdale, Illinois)
Left AN 3.0 cm (1.5 cm @ diagnosis 6 wks prior) SSD. BAHA implant 3/4/08 (Dr. Battista) Divino 6/4/08  BP100 4/2010 BAHA 5 8/2015

I don't actually "make" trouble..just kind of attract it, fine tune it, and apply it in new and exciting ways

Manders

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Re: Just learned I have an AN
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2013, 01:07:50 pm »
Hi Neetz and welcome! I had my surgery in May 2012 and, honestly, haven't been back on the forum too much now that I consider myself pretty much fully recovered. I do think it's important though that we posties turn around and help those who come after us because it is a very difficult and scary time when you discover you have a brain tumor.
I didn't have my AN removed at House. I live in Ohio and had everything done at the Cleveland Clinic by a wonderful group of doctors, surgeons, nurses, and therapists. Again, it's your decision but know that House isn't your only option and to research local places that may serve you just as well.
I kept a blog of my entire experience and have been told that it is helpful to those starting their very own AN journey so please feel free to check it out and leave me messages there as I check it often. The link is www.awkwardturtlesan.blogspot.com.
Praying for you for peace and comfort.

Manders
Diagnosed February 2012 * 1.3cm tumor * Experienced sudden & total hearing loss in 2007 in right ear * Translab scheduled for May 11, 2012*Follow my blog at: www.awkwardturtlesan.blogspot.com

kmr1969

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Re: Just learned I have an AN
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2013, 07:34:26 pm »
Anita,

House is a great place, but as others have said it is not the only place if you decide on surgery.  I did go to House and what made the decision for me was the experience of the doctors.  I met with some very qualified doctors in my local area, but they didn't have nearly the experience that the House doctors had.  That may not be the case for you, as your local doctors may have a lot more experience with ANs than mine did.

I can tell you that House did accept my insurance even though I live and work in Maryland.  It has been 2 months since my surgery and so far no billing surprises.

Good luck to you with your research and decision making,

Ken
2.7 cm AN diagnosed June 2012
Translab completed November 2012 at House Clinic
SSD; numbness on face and in mouth, plus poor taste buds, but happy with how I am doing so far

neetze1

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Re: Just learned I have an AN
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2013, 11:46:18 pm »
Thank you all again for your replies.  I have still not made a decision.  I am still trying to get appointments and check out my options.
So far I have two opinions and two different types of surgery recommendations.  House says Traslab and Jefferson says Retrosigmoid. Now I am trying to research the pros and cons of both.  I am waiting for a consultation with a radiologist.  This is so confusing.  Each option has different pitfalls (as you all know).  I am very afraid of the possibility of severe headaches. Has everyone that has had Retorsigmoid had headaches?  Should I expect eye problems with both types?  Thanks!
Anita
South Jersey
Translab 3/20/13 at HEI for 3.5 centimeter
Dr. Luxford, Dr. Lekovic, Dr. Stefan

leapyrtwins

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Re: Just learned I have an AN
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2013, 11:48:49 pm »
I had retrosigmoid and have no headaches or eye problems; no facial paralysis either.

Keep in mind that retrosigmoid gives you a chance of keeping your hearing - unlike translab that automatically "takes" it - but the odds of keeping it aren't good.  Less than 50/50 I believe.

Jan
Retrosig 5/31/07 Drs. Battista & Kazan (Hinsdale, Illinois)
Left AN 3.0 cm (1.5 cm @ diagnosis 6 wks prior) SSD. BAHA implant 3/4/08 (Dr. Battista) Divino 6/4/08  BP100 4/2010 BAHA 5 8/2015

I don't actually "make" trouble..just kind of attract it, fine tune it, and apply it in new and exciting ways

 


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