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Do Headaches, Jaw And Earache Indicate A Brain Tumor?

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Posted on Tue, 24 Oct 2017
Question: Hello, I went to my GP for my annual physical. I was explaining to her that I have often headaches on one side (around the temple) which feels more like a cramp. And sometimes it can go down to my ear and jaw. She wants to send me for a CT scan of the brain because I previously had cervical cancer 4 years ago stage 1b1. I am absolutely anxious person and cannot stop thinking and researching that, it could be brain tumor. I am 31. I also had invisalign done and completed the treatment over a year ago. I am suppose to wear my retainer at night but often forgot. Now my dentist told me that they do not fit me properly because my teeth have shifted. I also told him that when I wake up and remove my retainers that my jaw/gums feel so tight and I constantly feel like I clench on my retainers all night do to the thickness of them. All am saying is, I am just worried about a brain tumor.
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Answered by Dr. Olsi Taka (31 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Brain tumor unlikely.

Detailed Answer:
I read your question carefully and I understand your concern.

While a CT scan will serve to completely rule the tumor hypothesis out I would say in the meanwhile that it is very unlikely. First the type of pain commonly manifested in brain tumors is not cramp like. It is a constant persistent pain, which progresses over weeks to months, accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

In addition to that, while headache can be the only manifestation initially, over time some other symptoms should appear such as the above mentioned nausea and vomiting, behavior changes, weakness or numbness of the limbs on one side, vision abnormalities, seizures, coordination issues etc. Physical exam by your GP should show some neurological signs as well.

From an epidemiological point of view your age renders brain tumors unlikely as well, usually they appear at a later age.
As for the possibility of metastasis from the cervical cancer that would be unlikely as well, it is not a common source of brain metastasis, usually it is other type of tumors which metastasize in the brain (lung, kidney, breast, melanoma, gastrointestinal tract).

So while a CT will help to put your mind at rest, I do not think a brain tumor is likely at all. The dental issue is a possibility, anxiety may be a common source of tension headache and increased scalp muscle tension as well.

I remain at your disposal for other questions.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Dr. Olsi Taka

Neurologist

Practicing since :2004

Answered : 3674 Questions

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Do Headaches, Jaw And Earache Indicate A Brain Tumor?

Brief Answer: Brain tumor unlikely. Detailed Answer: I read your question carefully and I understand your concern. While a CT scan will serve to completely rule the tumor hypothesis out I would say in the meanwhile that it is very unlikely. First the type of pain commonly manifested in brain tumors is not cramp like. It is a constant persistent pain, which progresses over weeks to months, accompanied by nausea and vomiting. In addition to that, while headache can be the only manifestation initially, over time some other symptoms should appear such as the above mentioned nausea and vomiting, behavior changes, weakness or numbness of the limbs on one side, vision abnormalities, seizures, coordination issues etc. Physical exam by your GP should show some neurological signs as well. From an epidemiological point of view your age renders brain tumors unlikely as well, usually they appear at a later age. As for the possibility of metastasis from the cervical cancer that would be unlikely as well, it is not a common source of brain metastasis, usually it is other type of tumors which metastasize in the brain (lung, kidney, breast, melanoma, gastrointestinal tract). So while a CT will help to put your mind at rest, I do not think a brain tumor is likely at all. The dental issue is a possibility, anxiety may be a common source of tension headache and increased scalp muscle tension as well. I remain at your disposal for other questions.