What are Ear and Skull Base Tumors?

Tumors of the head and neck are abnormal growths and fall into two broad categories: benign, or non-cancerous; and malignant, or cancerous. There are many different types of tumors including:

Acoustic neuromas or vestibular schwannomas – A benign mass that grows from the balance nerve
Meningioma – Tumors affecting the membranes surrounding the brain and central nervous system
Lower cranial nerve schwannomas – A benign tumor of nerve fibers
Malignancies in the skull base and neck
Carcinomas of the ear
Glomus tumors or paragangliomas


The type and severity of symptoms depend on the tumor size, type and location. Some of the more common symptoms may include:

  • Vertigo or balance problems
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Facial weakness, twitching, numbness or pain
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Tinnitus
  • Swallowing or Voice Difficulties


Imaging studies such as MRI or CT scan are most commonly used to determine the type, size, location, shape and appearance of a tumor. If the tumor type cannot be determined by an MRI or CT scan, a biopsy may be performed.


Tumors that are located near vital structures such as blood vessels, nerves or the brain stem may be partially or completely surgically removed and/or treated with radiation therapy, gamma knife therapy or chemotherapy. Tumors that are not located near vital structures and that are in a surgically accessible area are often treated by surgical removal. Dr. Shohet uses a multidisciplinary approach to treat a range of conditions of the head and neck. He works closely with neurosurgeons, head and neck oncologic surgeons, and medical and radiation oncologists to provide the best possible therapy for each individual.

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