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An acoustic neuroma is a rare, benign (non-cancerous) growth. It affects the vestibulo-cochlear nerve. The vestibulo-cochlear nerve carries both hearing and balance information from the inner ear to the brain. The nerve also runs alongside the facial nerve, which carries information from the brain to the muscles of the face. It usually affects just one side of the head.
An acoustic neuroma usually grows very slowly. If it is found early the growth can be successfully removed by surgery.
Sometimes, the growth gets big enough to press on the balance, hearing and facial nerves. An acoustic neuroma is not a life-threatening condition except in the very rare cases that it grows large enough to press on the brain.
Acoustic neuromas are most common in people aged between 30 and 60.