For about seven years prior to my husband's base of tongue squamous cell carinoma diagnosis, he suffered with intermittent episodes of right ear pain, often starting out not too badly, but then progressing in intensity until he could hardly stand it. Sometimes the pain radiated down the right side of the neck as well. It would be so intense some evenings, that even the external ear would become painful and actually hot to the touch.
Visits to regular MD's and his ENT did not get to the bottom of his ear pain. They blamed it on migraines (although my husband had never been diagnosed with migraines). They blamed it on sinus trouble, giving him something new to spray up his nose or a new prescription every time he went for a check. Early on, the ENT even sent my husband for a CT scan, but it showed nothing (and this was seven years prior to his cancer diagnosis). Back then, I did not know that the unexplained ear pain (that would not respond to all the things doctors tried) could actually be a sign of cancer. Now I am acutely aware that his poor right neck nodes were doing their darndest to fight a tumor on the tongue base, although no one knew at the time. I'm certain now that, every night when he sat holding his head in his hands, groaning with pain... it was his lymph nodes fighting the tumor... plus the cancer eventually spread to them too. As I said, my husband was finally diagnosed with his tongue cancer (a tumor to the RIGHT of midline, with metastatic RIGHT neck node disease... seven years after the pain in his RIGHT ear presented.) Even though our ENT disagrees, I know in my heart that my husband had cancer way back when we first visited this ENT seven years ago for the ear pain. There is no other explanation for it. Although the ENT admits he never could figure the reason for my husband's longstanding ear pain, he maintains even now that it was "completely unrelated to the cancer". Anyway, I cannot help but grieve over the fact that the cancer could have been caught in the early stages, instead of stage four (as is the determination for my husband's cancer at diagnosis, now one year ago). It is water under the dam, but I just hope that our ENT will work harder with the next person who comes to him with ear pain that he cannot get to the source of for years on end. When meds prescribed for headaches, sinuses, etc. do not quiet the ear pain, doctors (ENT's) should continue to explore, and SCOPE DOWN TO THE TONGUE BASE!
My question to anyone with this type of cancer... Did you also experience pain in the ear that could not be explained prior to receiving the tongue cancer diagnosis?
Any responses will be greatly appreciated.
Vinod's note: the topic title was amended to include 'ear pain' to allow better searching.