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Ear and Temporal Bone Cancer

Learn about what Baptist Cancer Center offers you in terms of leading-edge ear and temporal bone cancer treatments.

Ear and Temporal Bone Cancer Explained

The temporal bone is an area of the skull located above the ear. Ear and temporal bone cancer usually begins as skin cancer on the outer ear or in the ear canal. A rare form of cancer, temporal bone and ear cancer is more common in men than women. An estimated 200-300 cases of ear cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year.

Ear and Temporal Bone Cancer Treatment Options

Ask your doctor to examine any scaly skin, lesions, or tiny bumps that develop on or around your ear. If it grows larger or spreads, the area may be cancerous and will require a biopsy. Malignant tumors must be removed right away to prevent them from spreading.

Ear cancer treatment depends on the size and location of the tumor, as well as the stage of the cancer. Usually, your doctor will perform surgery to remove the lesion first, then follow up with radiation therapy. There are three types of ear canal and temporal bone surgeries:

  • Sleeve resection surgery: This procedure removes the skin, canal, bone, and eardrum. Doctors reconstruct the ear, and patients retain their sense of hearing.
  • Lateral temporal bone resection surgery: The middle ear and sleeve of the outer ear are removed during this surgery. After surgery, some people may wear a hearing aid to assist with hearing loss and most will not hear normally again.
  • Radical temporal bone resection surgery: This surgery requires removal of the temporal bone. The brain is exposed during reconstruction of the sleeve, middle, and inner ear.

Ear and Temporal Bone Cancer Treatment at Baptist Cancer Center?

Patients receive treatment for ear and temporal bone cancer at the Baptist Cancer Center’s Head and Neck Center. Each patient receives the undivided focus of a team of physicians and scientists. This team may include medical oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, neuroradiologists, and plastic surgeons. They are joined by dentists, nurses, speech pathologists, audiologists, nutritionists, psychologists and social workers with special training in head and neck cancers.

Working together, We have special expertise and highly skilled therapists to help you maintain speech, swallowing, and hearing.

The Different Types of Ear and Temporal Bone Cancer

There are three different types of ear and temporal bone cancer. If they are neglected, ear cancers may grow into the ear canal, mastoid, middle ear, facial nerve, or organs responsible for your hearing and balance. The types of ear cancer include:

Squamous cell carcinomas

Squamous cell carcinomas develop from cells in the exocervix. Squamous cell carcinomas most often begin where the exocervix (outer surface) joins the endocervix (inner canal). Up to 90% of cervical cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.

Cervical adenocarcinoma
Cervical adenocarcinoma develops from the mucus-producing gland cells of the endocervix and have become more common in the last 30 years.
Adenoid cystic carcinoma

The rarest form of ear cancer, it originates in the glands that produce earwax.

Learn the Symptoms and Causes

Recognizing the signs of ear and temporal bone cancer allows for timely intervention, potentially increasing the chances of successful treatment and improving your quality of life.

What are the causes and risk factors of ear and temporal bone cancer?

Due to its rarity, ear cancer requires more research. However, chronic skin infections in the ear canal may increase your risk for developing ear cancer. Years of sun exposure to the skin on the ear, called the pinna, also increases your risk of developing the disease. Fair-skinned people are at greater risk for developing skin cancer and temporal bone cancer.

Common Signs and Symptoms

Ear and temporal bone cancer often begins as skin cancer. Ear cancer symptoms may include small white bumps or scaly patches on the outer ear or on the skin around the ear. These tumors can grow large if neglected and may lead to facial paralysis. The main symptoms of ear and temporal bone cancer include:

  • Ear pain
  • Hearing loss
  • Drainage
  • Bleeding
Three doctors in a professional conversation.

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Connect With a Patient Navigator

As a patient at Baptist Cancer Center, you will have access to a dedicated patient navigator who will act as your advocate and liaison between you and your health care teams. Our patient navigators are available at every step to schedule appointments, answer questions, explain the treatment process, and provide resources, education and support when you and your family need it.