About Ear Cancer

When the cells in the ear start dividing and growing uncontrollably, it results in ear cancer. Most ear cancers begin in the ear canal or the skin of the outer ear. Most ear cancers begin in the outer ear and are a type of skin cancer. Middle and inner ear cancers are extremely rare. Ear cancer treatment options may vary depending upon your cancer’s origin, location, type, and spread. The causes of ear cancer are unknown. However, common risk factors of this condition include exposure to a history of repeated ear infections, UV rays of the sun, being fair-skinned, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infections and radiation therapy to the head and neck region. Ear cancer life expectancy depends upon the stage and grade of cancer. The outlook for localised ear cancers is better than advanced stage 3 and stage 4 ear cancer.


Few symptoms of ear cancer include:

  • Pain.
  • Bleeding or discharge from the ear.
  • Ringing in the ear.
  • The feeling of fullness in the ear.
  • Facial pain and weakness.
  • Hearing loss.


Many of these symptoms are non-specific and may appear in other conditions. If you have not had an ear infection in a long time or persistent symptoms, you must visit your GP or seek a second opinion from an ENT specialist.


Most ear cancers are initially misdiagnosed as ear infections. If your symptoms do not subside, your doctor or the specialist may recommend a few tests to evaluate the condition further:


  • Hearing tests.
  • Imaging studies: X-rays, MRI, or CT scans may be recommended to detect, locate and assess its extent. These tests also provide information about the spread of ear cancer to nearby lymph nodes, the parotid gland or other head and neck region areas.
  • Biopsy: If your doctor spots an abnormal tumour growth in your ear, they may collect a tissue sample and send it for further analysis. If ear cancer is confirmed, the tissue sample is also used to stage and grade cancer.


Based on your signs, symptoms and diagnostic test results, your doctor and healthcare team will determine how to treat ear cancer.



Ear cancer treatment options depend upon where your cancer begins. The primary treatment option for middle and inner ear cancer is surgery to remove the entire tumour, followed by radiotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells and prevent a recurrence. Advanced stages of these cancers may also require chemotherapy.


Outer ear cancers are usually treated by surgery and radiation therapy. The type and amount of surgery you need will depend upon the stage and spread of your ear cancer. In most cases, when the cancer is localised to the outer year, these treatments can help cure cancer.


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