Can A Parotid Tumor Cause Ear Pain & Are They Hereditary?

Classical symptoms of parotid tumor include swelling or lump in your mouth, cheek or jaw, and pain in the ear or neck that persists for a lifetime.1, 2

Cysts can develop in the salivary glands after injury and patients may experience craniofacial pain (pain in the head, ear, and neck) and several factors suggest a possible genetic predisposition3.

Salivary gland tumors are not hereditary conditions however DNA changes have an increased chance of developing parotid tumors.4

Can A Parotid Tumor Cause Ear Pain?

The major salivary glands are sitting in front of the ears on each side of the face and below the tongue. When an individual is affected with a parotid tumor, the craniofacial nerves (the vital nerves and its associated structures) will undergo a huge impact.

Classical symptoms of parotid tumor include swelling or lump in your mouth, cheek, or jaw, and pain in the ear or neck that persists for a lifetime. Also, other symptoms include

  • A significant difference in appearance between the right and left side of the face
  • Partial paralysis in certain parts of your face
  • Numbness and weakness in one side of the face
  • Difficulty in opening your mouth, while speaking and eating food
  • Pus or fluid draining from the ear

The typical symptoms of Craniofacial problem are ear pain however they are complex because it is often associated with many types of cancer or related conditions. Most cases of ear pain are usually misinterpreted as atypical facial pain and ruled out the early diagnosis and treatment of parotid tumors and were incorrectly treated with pain medications.

A study was conducted on 186 patients who reported salivary gland neoplasm. Among those, 6 percent of patients suffered ear pain and craniofacial numbness. The most common craniofacial numbness was in the throat, neck, and temporomandibular ear side.1, 2

Are Parotid Tumors Hereditary?

Cancer can be caused by several factors and one such factor is the DNA changes. DNA is a hereditary material (passing from the adult to the offspring) in the humans that is required for development and reproduction. Cysts can develop in the salivary glands after injury and patients may experience craniofacial pain (pain in the head, ear, and neck) and several factors suggest a possible genetic predisposition3.

Salivary gland tumors are not hereditary conditions however DNA changes have an increased chance of developing parotid tumors. Certain genes called tumor suppressor genes to help control the growth of the abnormal cells and when these cells grow, the genes divide them and make them die. However, the oncogenes help cells grow and multiply and live longer increasing the risk of certain diseases especially cancer.

Medical studies demonstrate that salivary glands do not run in families and it is not inherited from the individual’s parents. Instead, they acquire parotid cancer during their lifetime due to DNA changes. In some instances, the changes happen due to random events that occur inside the cell due to exposure to radiation or carcinogens.4

Parotid tumors are abnormal development of cells that form in one or both the salivary glands. This is a major salivary gland and the two parotid glands are present in the mouth and the front of the ears. They produce saliva to moisten your mouth often helpful in chewing, swallowing, and digestion of food.

References:

  1. Edwin A. Ernest, III. “Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma of the Parotid Gland.” Practical Pain Management, www.practicalpainmanagement.com/pain/maxillofacial/adenoid-cystic-carcinoma-parotid-gland.
  2. Schiff, Bradley A., et al. “Salivary Gland Tumors – Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders.” Merck Manuals Professional Edition, Merck Manuals, www.merckmanuals.com/en-ca/professional/ear-nose-and-throat-disorders/tumors-of-the-head-and-neck/salivary-gland-tumors.
  3. Aro, Katri, et al. “Familial Predisposition for Salivary Gland Cancer in Finland.” Clinical Medicine Insights. Ear, Nose and Throat, Libertas Academica, 24 Mar. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3972079/.
  4. Jim Stallard Tuesday, October 28. “Genetic Mutations Found in Rare Salivary Tumor Could Improve Diagnosis and Treatment.” Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 28 Oct. 2014, www.mskcc.org/news/genetic-mutations-found-rare-salivary-tumor-could-improve-diagnosis-and-treatment.

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