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Cancer of the optic nerve


The optic nerve is a cranial nerve, coming directly from the brain and having as a function to transfer visual information from the eye to the brain to be interpreted as an image. A tumor of the optic nerve can grow on any part of the nerve path. It can be either rapidly expanding and resulting in loss of sight or blindness, often as part of a malignant tumor or cancer, or on the contrary stable, which is the prerogative of benign tumors. However, whether benign or malignant, the tumor must be treated.


The main symptoms of cancer of the optic nerve are a (more or less) rapid decline in visual acuity and a forward movement of the eyeball, called exophthalmos. There is generally a partial or total loss of vision.


The diagnosis of cancer of the optic nerve is suspected in the presence of the various clinical signs mentioned above. Medical imaging can accurately determine the stage of the tumor and its evolution. A scanner is used, and most especially a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which is the ideal exam for diagnosing this type of tumor.


Different options for treating tumors of the optic nerve exist. It is sufficient to monitor the tumor if it is benign, non-progressive and not disabling. A doctor will, in this case, regularly ensure that it does not progress. The doctor may need, however, resort to surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy in progressive forms depending on the location of the tumor, its size and the potential impact of each treatment.

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