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Head and Neck Cancer

Bone-like mass at left base of skull by ear

04/04/2008

Question:

It`s just behind and below the ear. I definitely don`t have it on the other side. It`s probably  1 to 1 1/2 inches wide and doesn`t protrude through the skin, but can be felt just below the skin with a little pressure. I have constant pressure in that area and neck stays stiff and tender. I have had cervical X-rays, cervical CT scans, and cervical MRIs, but they said it didn`t show anything. It doesn`t really feel cervical to me. It`s more like it`s grown from my skull. I have tingling in my left arm/hand and sometimes vibration-like sensations on the left side of my neck. Could they have focused the Xray/CT/MRI too deep to catch it on film?

My PCP said that she doesn`t know what it is. I can`t seem to get a doctor that really wants to pursue diagnosing it. I think if it can be felt, it can be diagnosed, right? Thanks.

Answer:

Masses of the head and neck are not normal and should be further worked up. You stated that you had "cervical MRI and CT." This terminology often refers to the spine, not the soft tissue areas of the head and neck where this mass apparently is. In order to reassure you about the presence of a mass in this location, your primary physician may want to send you to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) physician. Make sure that you bring with you all the scans that have been done.

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Response by:

Cheryl  Koliha-Brandt, MSN, RN, CNS, CORLN Cheryl Koliha-Brandt, MSN, RN, CNS, CORLN
Clinical Nurse Specialist and Instructor of
Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology 
Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing
Case Western Reserve University

Pierre  Lavertu, MD, FRCS(C), FACS Pierre Lavertu, MD, FRCS(C), FACS
Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University