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Vic Reeves diagnosed with inoperable brain tumour – star’s condition explained

Vic Reeves and Nancy Sorrell dance together in Dover

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The star, who is best known for appearing alongside fellow comic Bob Mortimer, revealed that doctors discovered a tumour growing on his brain. The condition is known medically as a vestibular schwannoma. Thankfully it is non-cancerous, but can become extremely dangerous if it grows to a large size.

As a result of the condition Vic has been “living with deafness” and cannot hear anything at all in one ear.

Opening up about his diagnosis on The Adam Buxton Podcast he said: “I’ve got a vestibular schwannoma – it’s a tumour in my head.

“I’ve gone completely deaf, 100 percent deaf, in the left ear, and it will never come back. It’s dead – absolutely completely gone.”

The tumour – which is currently the size of a grape – is being monitored by doctors to track its size which requires the star to make regular hospital trips for MRI scans.

The comedian continued to say: “It’s benign. They can’t remove it – they can shrink it or they can leave it and keep an eye on it, and that’s what they’re doing.

“Between your eardrum and your brain is a nerve. And that takes all the information from your ear to your brain. And the tumour is right in between.

“So it’s gone ‘ping’ and snapped. And you can’t reattach nerves. Not at this stage in medical science anyway. But in the future? Probably the week after I perish there will be great news.”

Talking more about how the tumor has impacted his life, he talked about how he has had to throw away all of his stereo LPs: “No more will I hear Jimi Hendrix doing If Six Was Nine. It goes all over the place. I thought it was great when stereo first happened.”

In addition to listening to his LPs his bird watching habit has also suffered as he discussed how he doesn’t know where the birds are or what direction they are in.

Despite the distressing news and the symptoms of his condition, Vic revealed that he is just trying to “get on with it”.

The NHS states that a vestibular schwannoma is also known as an acoustic neuroma and they usually tend to affect adults aged 30 to 60.

Symptoms tend to develop gradually at first and often include the following:

  • Hearing loss that usually only affects one ear
  • Hearing sounds that come from inside the body (tinnitus)
  • The sensation that you’re moving or spinning (vertigo).

If the tumour grows larger it can sometimes cause more serious symptoms including:

  • Persistent headaches
  • Temporary blurred or double vision
  • Numbness, pain or weakness on one side of the face
  • Problems with limb coordination on one side of the body
  • A hoarse voice or difficulty swallowing.

The cause of the condition is unknown, but in some cases it is caused by a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) – a condition which causes tumours to grow along the nervous system.

As the tumour is benign there are several different treatment options available depending on the size, position of the tumour, how fast it is growing and your general health.

The NHS states the main treatment options are:

  • Monitoring the tumour – small tumours often just need to be monitored with regular MRI scans, and the treatments below are generally only recommended if scans show it’s getting bigger
  • Brain surgery – surgery to remove the tumour through a cut in the skull may be carried out under general anaesthetic if it’s large or getting bigger
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery – small tumours, or any pieces of a larger tumour that remain after surgery, may be treated with a precise beam of radiation to stop them getting any bigger.

All of these options however carry some risks. Surgery and radiosurgery can sometimes cause facial numbness or partial face paralysis.

Even with treatment, symptoms such as hearing loss and tinnitus can persist and affect your ability to work, communicate and drive.

In addition, even those who have had the tumour surgically removed can experience a relapse where the acoustic neuroma returns.

If you experience any of the above symptoms it is crucial to go and seek medical help. If your GP thinks you could have an acoustic neuroma, you’ll be referred to a hospital or clinic for further tests, such as a CT scan, hearing tests or MRI scan.

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