Neurofibromatosis (NF) includes two distinct genetic disorders of the nervous system, NF1 and NF2. These disorders usually result in tumors involving nerves anywhere in the body; however, nonnervous tissue such as bone and skin can also be affected. Together, these two genetic disorders affect more than 100,000 Americans of both genders and all ethnic groups. NF1 and NF2 are usually inherited as autosomal dominant disorders. Therefore, a parent with NF has a 50 percent chance of passing on the disorder to his or her child. However, 30 percent to 50 percent of NF1 and NF2 cases arise as a result of a spontaneous genetic change. Tumors that develop in individuals with NF can cause disfigurement, deafness, blindness, bone deformation, learning disabilities, and in some cases death. The tumors that appear in NF patients can vary significantly, even among affected individuals in the same family. Surgical intervention can provide palliative relief; however, at this time there is no cure.
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