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Optic Nerve Glioma Defined

Originally published on April 18, 2011
Most recently updated on April 10, 2013

A glioma is a tumor that grows from glial cells, which are supportive cells in the brain.  Optic nerve gliomas grow specifically in the optic nerve which is the part of the brain that connects the eye to the visual center of the brain.  Optic nerve glioma can effect one or both optic nerves. 

Optic nerve gliomas are a type of pilocytic astrocytomas.


Optic nerve gliomas are often slow growing and considered low grade or type I tumors. 


The symptoms of optic nerve glioma are often due to the tumor growing on and pressing up against the optic nerve.  These symptoms include:

- Involuntary eyeball movement
- One or both eyes may bulge outward
- Squinting
- Vision loss in one or both eyes

Common Treatments:

Surgery is often used to remove all or part of the tumor.  Although loss of vision is a common side effect of surgery. 

Surgery can be followed by radiation and/or chemotherapy if not all of the tumor is removed during surgery. 

Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to kill tumor cells. The most common type of radiation treatment is called external-beam radiation therapy, which is radiation given from a machine outside the body. 

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill tumor cells. Systemic chemotherapy is delivered through the bloodstream, targeting tumor cells throughout the body.

Clinical Trials are another treatment option in which new treatment methods are being tested to find out if the new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment.  More than 60% of children with cancer are treated as a part of a clinical trial.



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