Doctors See Increase of Ear Tumor Cases

Hearing loss can be caused by a number of things, but don't assume it just comes with old age.

Doctors say they're seeing more and more cases of ear tumors called acoustic neuroma.

When longtime Dallas radio personality Mark McCray started to lose some of his hearing, he thought maybe it was just a hazard of the job. He went to a doctor to get it checked out, but was told it wasn't anything to worry about.

Years later, the hearing loss got worse and he began to suffer nausea and dizziness.

"Once I finally realized that there was something that was off, I had an ENT suggest that I get an MRI," said McCray.

Doctors found a four centimeter tumor on the nerve that connects his ear to his brain.

Acoustic tumors are benign, which means they won't spread to other parts of the body, however, if left untreated, they'll continue to grow on the nerve.

"The symptoms just increase. The dizziness increases. The hearing loss increases and eventually the brain stem, which is a very important part of your brain, gets compressed and it can take your life," said Dr. Yoav Hahn, Board-Certified Otologist/Neurotologist and Otolaryngologist at Medical City Dallas.

Today's advanced imaging technology is helping doctors catch the tumors, which is why the number of cases is on the rise.

The tumors, if small, are monitored, but if medium or large in size, will be treated with surgery or radiation.

"Once they are removed, the prognosis is very good. In fact, the chances of them coming back are very low," said Dr. Hahn.  

McCray permanently lost hearing in his right ear as a result of the surgery, but the tumor and its deadly potential are gone.

"Overall, I'm a positive person, so I just think of it as, yeah it's something that nobody wants, but I've been able to use the platform that I have a radio personality to talk about it and bring awareness to it."

See a doctor if hearing loss is worse in one ear over the other or you have ringing (tinnitus) in one ear or if you get vertigo or dizziness.

Ear tumors can develop in anyone at any age.

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