Cancer of the Ear

Cancer of the temporal bone and the ear are rare. Usually, these cancers can be caused by cancer of the skin that starts on the outer ear or in the ear canal and invades the bone. Other cancers of the ear area are caused by invasion from adjacent structures such as the parotid gland (saliva gland that sits in front of the ear canal).  The diagnosis is made by examination and biopsy of the mass. Almost always imaging studies, such as a CT scan or MRI is necessary for diagnosis.

Cancer of the ear must be treated aggressively with removal of all of the abnormal growth and a margin of normal tissue. The surgery required for this condition is a temporal bone resection. The amount of resection depends on the size of lesion. Small malignancies may be removed with removal of the ear canal only. Larger lesions require more tissue removal. Involved structures (such as nerves, blood vessels, or the inner ear) may need to be removed and reconstructed as well.  

Other treatment modalities may be necessary for cancer cure. Chemotherapy may be necessary following surgery. Radiation following surgery is used in most cases.