ENT Head & Neck Surgery Center

Rm 02, 5/F., Kai Seng Commerical Centre,
4-6 Hankow Road, TST Kln, HK
(near Kowloon Hotel)
Tel: (852) 3100 0555
Fax: (852) 3100 0556

Lawrence Chow / ENT Doctor

Tumors of the Middle Ear & Mastoid Portion

Tumors of the Middle Ear & Mastoid Portion


Just like any other part of the body, the ears are also subject to the growth of benign and malignant tumors. Tumors may grow in all areas of the ear – from the exterior to the middle ear and inner ear. As tumors in each location are different in behavior and treatment, they have to be categorized by site of occurrence. This regards the tumors of the middle ear and to some extent, the mastoid portion.


Common Benign Tumors

  • Polyps – polyps are not true tumors but are actually inflammations within the mucous membrane. They can swell and be quite painful and at first sight they are indistinguishable from regular tumors. They are reddish in appearance and may bleed upon vacuuming. In just about all cases regarding polyps, immediate middle ear/mastoid surgery will be required.
  • Cholesteatoma – these are benign tumors of the middle ear and are also the most common tumor of this particular area. This type of tumor occurs when skin continues to grow through a perforation of the ear drum and resulted in infection and swelling. Antibiotics as well as surgical cleaning is necessary – cholesteatoma is a serious condition and may result in hearing loss.

Less Common Benign Tumors

  • Facial nerve neuroma – this is one of the lesser common tumors of the middle ear, this time affecting the facial nerve. Upon further growth it may lead to hearing loss and facial paralysis. Partial or total excision of the facial may be necessary for treatment.
  • Cholesterol granulomas – resulting from blood hemorrhage in the mastoid and middle ear, gelatinous masses begin to grow and damage the parts of the middle ear. It is therefore not a true tumor but it does function similarly to one.

Malignant Tumors

Fortunately, malignant tumors are not common. The most prevalent of malignant tumors in the middle ear is the growth of squamous cell cancers. There have been no clear studies regarding how ear infection affects the development of these cell cancers but it has been noted that chronic inflammation may be the link between them.


Symptoms of squamous cell cancers of the middle ear/mastoid:

  • Intermittent hemorrhage
  • Bleeding
  • Ear drainage
  • Significant hearing loss
  • Consistent pain

Most patients are diagnosed with this type of malignant tumor when the tumor has already reached an advanced stage. Suspicious is necessary upon the investigation of any form of tissue growth protruding from a perforated ear drum, especially if it is accompanied by pain.


Treatment of Malignant Tumors

The only suggested treatment for malignant tumors of the middle ear and mastoid is radiation therapy after immediate invasive therapy. Radiation therapy alone is not enough to completely excise the tumor which is why surgery is also required for 100% extraction.

This type of treatment becomes impossible once the tumor has moved on and invaded the covering of the brain (dura). Treatment at this point involves medication to reduce pain and increase quality of life.


For details of our ENT services, diagnosis, and treatment, please consult our ENT specialist.




HK ENT Specialist Ltd.

Hong Kong based ENT clinic centre

For ENT Services, Audiology & Speech Therapy,

Sleep Disordered Breathing Management,

Hearing Aid Prescription & Medical Cosmetic Services



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