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The con­di­tion Pro­fes­sor Ncoza Dlova sus­pects Nduduzo is liv­ing with is a ge­netic dis­or­der of the ner­vous sys­tem.

The dis­or­der af­fects the growth and de­vel­op­ment of nerve cell tis­sue and is char­ac­terised by patches of tan or light brown skin and neu­rofi­bro­mas – soft, fleshy growths – on or un­der the skin.

Bones can be en­larged or de­formed and cur­va­ture of the spine may also oc­cur.

Oc­ca­sion­ally, tu­mours may de­velop in the brain, on cra­nial nerves or on the spinal cord.

Learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties oc­cur in 50 to 75% of cases.


Neu­rofi­bro­mato­sis can be in­her­ited but no there is no fam­ily his­tory of the con­di­tion in about 50% of cases. So it can arise spon­ta­neously through a mu­ta­tion or change in the genes. Once this change has taken place, the mu­tant gene can be passed on to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.


There is no cure for neu­rofi­bro­mato­sis. Treat­ment – such as surgery to re­move prob­lem­atic growths – fo­cuses on con­trol­ling symp­toms. How­ever, tu­mours of­ten grow back.

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