Glomus tumor is a type of benign tumor that grows in the large blood vessels in your neck (carotid arteries), the portion below your middle ear (jugular bulb), or in the middle ear. These tumors grow very slowly with time.
Although these tumors are benign, usually they create a lot of health issues. As they grow with time, they can cause great damage to the surrounding tissues.
It is not exactly clear what causes glomus tumors. Researchers are figuring out if certain risk factors increase your chance of developing one.
Furthermore, as per some studies, trauma leads to the induction of solitary subungual glomus tumors. Besides, these tumors can show recurrence as well. For instance, glomus tumors that locate in the mail matrix or show the coloration of skin have a greater probability of recurrence.
Depending on the position of the glomus tumor, you can have different symptoms. If the tumor is present is a carotid body tumor (present in the carotid arteries), you may develop:
Presence of a mass in the neck
Difficulty in swallowing
If the tumor is present in the jugular bulb (glomus jugulare tumor), then
Your one ear bleeds
Pain in ears
Your shoulder droops
If it is present in the middle ear (glomus tympanicum tumor), then
Bleeding may occur from one ear
You feel ringing or pulsing in one ear
If the glomus tumor is present in the neck (glomus vagale tumor), then
Facial palsy may occur that is paralysis or weakness may develop in the part of the face.
Presence of a mass in the neck.
Sometimes, cancer may affect your stress hormone or norepinephrine levels, then you may show symptoms like
A higher blood pressure
Your doctor may use several ways to diagnose and detect your glomus tumor. However, before going for the main tests, he/she may ask about your symptoms. A thorough physical check-up by your doctor would be quite helpful.
In case your doctor suspects a tumor, he/she may try to confirm it with other tests. Moreover, an accurate diagnosis of a glomus tumor requires a specialist. Your doctor may see a mass or lesion under the nail or in the blue fingertip pulp.
Furthermore, the mass will be tender to touch and show swelling at the tip. Your nails may also show the presence of an abnormal ridge when you view it carefully.
After looking for these changes, your doctor may order other imaging tests to confirm the tumor. In an X-ray, your tumor will show erosion or deformity in the distal phalanx if the mass stands for long. Otherwise, the X-ray films may appear all normal.
In addition to an X-ray, your doctor may go for an MRI. Your doctor gets more specific details about the soft tissues of your body like glomus tumors. Other scans such as CT scans, angiograms are also useful. However, to undoubtedly confirm the tumor, a biopsy is the ultimate answer.
Surgical removal of the glomus tumor is the only real treatment for this cancer. Moreover, even if the size of your tumor is very small and not causing serious symptoms, then also surgery may be necessary.
This is because if you do not remove the tumor on time, it may grow continuously and cause a lot of problems as it gets bigger. Your doctor may remove the glomus tumor in the following ways:
Complete Surgical Removal. In this surgical treatment, your surgeon removes your glomus tumor completely. This process may be difficult to follow because of the presence of many nerves. But, once your doctor removes the tumor completely, you do not need any other treatment.
Stereotactic Radiosurgery. Technically, this isn’t surgery. Here, a healthcare professional uses X-rays to destroy the tissues of your tumor. This technique does not cause any major harm to normal tissues and aims at the tumor only unlike the traditional radiation therapy techniques.
Surgery Followed by Radiation Therapy. In certain cases, your doctor may use a combination of both. When your doctor removes a tumor, he/she may order follow-up radiation.
This way your doctor may try to destroy the remaining tumor cells, which otherwise are difficult to remove by surgery.
Coping and support
When you get diagnosed with glomus tumor, it could be frightening for you. The condition will be no different for your family.
However, you may learn to cope with the uncertainty and distress related to cancer with time. Thus, you need to follow these instructions until then;
Call on for medical support:
Various things are going to help you. For instance, the knowledge and understanding of a medical social worker, or any other mental health professional is necessary. They will help you in understanding your cancer.
Furthermore, if your child or other family member suffers from cancer, you need to ask health care professionals for advice. They will provide you with options for medical health support. This will also provide you with emotional and social support.
In addition to this, you can check various online services that will provide you support to combat cancer.
- Gain more knowledge about glomus tumor to make decisionsabout control and care:
Ask your doctor about various treatment options related to glomus tumor. Little knowledge is dangerous. Therefore, more confidence in understanding and making decisions about treatment options will be there with you. So you should always learn more about the disease.
Ask the health care team for guidance if your child has cancer. Therefore, get more and more information for appropriately caring for the patient.
Be close to your friends and family:
A close and strong relationship with your family and friends is necessary. It will help you deal with glomus tumor.
You need practical support, moral support from your friends and relatives. Thus, someone should be there for you to look after the family. Emotional support from them is going to matter most. Thus, a healthy and happy person will ultimately efficiently fight the disease.
Prepare for your appointment
You are likely to start making an appointment with your primary care doctor if some signs and symptoms worry you. Ask for a referral to an experienced specialist if your doctor suspects glomus tumor.
A team of specialists typically can treat. For instance;
Tumor surgeons who have specialization in operating soft tissue cancers.
Doctors who have a specialization in treating cancers with systemic medications or chemotherapy.
Pathologists diagnose the specific type of cancer by analyzing a tissue.
Rehabilitation specialists who after surgery help in the recovery of a tumor.
What you should expect from your doctor:
You will face several questions from your doctor. Thus, you should be ready to answer these. So, give more time to your doctor to address them. Your doctor may ask;
What signs and symptoms concern you more?
Have your symptoms been occasional or continuous?
When did you start to notice the symptoms?
The severity of your symptoms?
Is there anything that improves your symptoms?
Is there anything that worsens your symptoms?
Do you have any family or personal history of cancer?