Ear cancer is rare and usually begins with skin cancer that develops in the outer ear , the ear canal, or the skin around the ear. If left untreated, ear cancer can spread to the inner ear , as well as the temporal bone , facial nerves, etc. Early treatment is important, and the first sign of ear cancer is usually an abnormal growth in the outer ear. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types of skin cancer that develop in or around the ear .
Types of ear skin cancer
The two most common types of ear skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Melanoma is also possible, but much less common.
Basal cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer and the second most common ear cancer. Basal cell carcinoma begins in the basal cells, which are found in the upper layer of the skin. These types of outgrowths are usually slow growing and rarely spread beyond their main area. However, if left untreated, the tumor can spread to the temporal bone, inner ear, and surrounding areas. Most cases are caught early and can be completely eliminated .
Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer, but it is the most common type of skin cancer of the ear. Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin of the ear is still rare, accounting for only 0.2% of all face and neck cancer diagnoses. It occurs when the squamous cells in the skin around the ear become damaged and grow out of control. Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is more serious than basal cell carcinoma because of its ability to spread .
Melanoma of the ear is rare and is a much more serious diagnosis than basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma. Melanoma is more likely to spread to the surrounding tissues of the face, making it more dangerous than other types of skin cancer. Melanoma begins in cells called melanocytes; they produce pigment in the skin. Melanoma is serious, but it is usually cured if found early. The five-year survival rate is 99% when detected at the earliest stage .
Signs and symptoms
Ear cancer almost always begins with skin cancer. The first signs include a scaly patch of skin around the ear or small white bumps on the outside of the ear. If left untreated, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body and cause serious symptoms such as hearing loss, earache, and bleeding or discharge from the ear. Facial weakness and paralysis can also occur when cancer spreads. The most common signs of ear or ear squamous cell carcinoma are ear pain and discharge. Hearing loss may also be noted.
Basal cell carcinoma usually presents as open sores, pink growths, red spots, or shiny bumps. About half of people with darker skin have brown or black pigmented lesions. Over time, the growths may bleed or ooze. Pain that never seems to heal can also be a sign of basal cell cancer .
Squamous cell carcinomas often appear as scaly patches of skin and open lesions. The spots are usually rough and thickened; they may look like warts. An open wound can bleed and scab over and never fully heal .
Melanoma is usually a brown or black growth that resembles a mole. These growths are usually abnormal in shape with no clear boundaries. Most of them are brown, brown, or black at first, and as they grow and spread, they may change to red, white, or blue. Growth will change over time, so it is very important to be on the lookout for new moles or ear marks .
Don't ignore flaky skin
The most common type of skin cancer of the ear, squamous cell carcinoma, often presents as a patch of dry, scaly skin. The skin on the ear may appear rough and thicker than the surrounding skin.
These growths are different from dry or sensitive skin in that they do not improve with moisturizers and are sometimes painful. They often crust over, bleed, or ooze, but are never completely healed. Skin cancer lesions can also appear as a new scar without trauma .
A precancerous lesion known as actinic keratosis also appears as a red, scaly patch of skin. It often appears on exposed areas of the face, such as the ears. Treating these growths early can prevent them from turning into cancer.
Ear cancer is rare, so most people with risk factors will never develop it. However, it is helpful to know what the risk factors are to be aware of any abnormal skin growth around the ear. The most common risk factor is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or tanning beds.
Chronic otorrhea (drainage from the ear) and cholesteatoma (benign, abnormal growth of the skin) in the ear canal and middle ear are also associated risk factors. Ear cancer is also common in people with chronic otitis media ( ear infections ).
Other risk factors include:
- Shiny skin
- Old age
- Exposure to arsenic and other chemicals.
- Exposure to radiation
- Previous skin cancer, especially on the face.
- Chronic inflammation of the skin.
- Simple treatments for psoriasis
- Weakened immune system
- Human papillomavirus infection
- Of smoking
What is the treatment for ear skin cancer?
The most common treatment for ear cancer is surgery to completely remove the growth. If caught early, a dermatologist can remove it in one of the following ways :
If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissue, more invasive surgery may be needed. After surgery, radiation is usually required to make sure all cancer cells are removed; Radiation therapy usually lasts about six weeks .
Depending on how advanced the cancer has progressed, your surgeon and oncologist will determine how much tissue to remove. When part or all of the outer ear is removed, a soft tissue flap is used to help the wound heal. You may need a plastic surgeon to help with the reconstruction. Other types of surgery include removal of the ear canal and the tympanic membrane or surrounding lymph nodes, if necessary. Hearing aids and cochlear implants can help manage hearing loss after surgery .
The best way to prevent cancer of the ear (or any part of the body) is to avoid and protect yourself from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun or tanning beds. When spending time outdoors, remember to take care of your skin. Take frequent breaks indoors or in the shade. Wear protective clothing, especially a hat that protects your ears from the sun. When applying sunscreen, be careful not to rub it in or around your ears. These areas are often overlooked and can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Look for sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply more often .
To find ear cancer as early as possible, check the outer ear and surrounding skin for changes, such as dry, scaly patches or sores that never seem to heal. Bleeding or discharge from the ear is also a warning sign. An annual skin exam by a dermatologist can also help you detect the first signs of cancer and treat it right away .
Get the word of drug information
Ear cancer is rare and can be missed or ignored. Squamous cell carcinoma of the ear is often misdiagnosed. Symptoms such as pain and discharge can be mistaken for an ear infection and treated with antibiotic drops, delaying necessary treatment and worsening the prognosis. Pay attention to any growth on or around your ear and watch for changes. Don't hesitate to contact your doctor if you have scaly patches on your skin, growths, or bleeding. Although very rare, ear cancer can be treated early.