Tumors of the Ear
Tumors of the ear and the side of the head encompassing the ear are sometimes also described as lateral skull base tumors. Tumors of this area are derived from the varied structures of the ear containing skin, cartilage, bone, middle ear and mastoid mucosa (membranous lining), nerve, blood vessels, and glands. When there is abnormal over proliferation of the tissue from such components of the ear/skull base, tumor is formed. Tumors are classified as benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous). Tumors in the skull base, not derived from ear structures may be metastases (distant tumors) from a malignancy ("primary" tumor) from another part of the body.
Middle Ear Mastoid
|Vestibular Schwannoma (Acoustic Neuroma)
|Basal Cell Cancer
|Facial Nerve Schwannoma
|Facial Nerve Schwannoma
|Endolymphatic Sac Tumor
|Jugular Foramen Schwannoma
Ear tumors may present as a "lump", growth, or with symptoms of drainage, pain, pressure, hearing loss, ear noises (tinnitus), facial nerve weakness, or dizziness/vertigo. Your physician’s job is to identify such tumors, when present and diagnose its type. If it is malignant, it is then "staged" in terms of size and spread (to local and distant parts of the body) to establish predicative information about its behavior. This information is also required to help determine optimal treatment for a given tumor, whether it is surgical excision, radiation, embolization, chemotherapy, or combination of these treatment modalities.
Imaging studies such as CT scans, MRI, and or angiograms (imaging of involved blood vessels) are frequently utilized in the initial evaluation of tumors in the skull base. Other studies may include hearing tests, balance tests, and electro-diagnostic studies of facial nerve function. Your otologist/neurotologist physician will suggest which consultant radiologist and other physicians may be helpful for properly assessing your tumor.
After these initial studies are performed, a biopsy may be recommended if a more definitive diagnosis is required and this can be performed in the outpatient office setting (fine needle aspiration) or in the operating room.
Surgical management of these tumors in the ear/skull base are best treated by surgeons intimately familiar with this region for optimal tumor removal with preservation of important structures and reconstruction of any defects. Specific management of these lesions will depend of the type of tumor, its location, size, and/or stage if malignant. Dr. Hammerschlag will discuss your treatment options, which will be individualized depending on many factors. These discussions are detailed and we have found that informed patients and their families are best equipped for this journey.