Q:

What causes cancer of the ear?

A:

Quick Answer

Cancers of the earlobe are skin cancers and are largely caused by exposure to ultraviolet light, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. In contrast, cancers of the middle ear are rare and may be due to chronic infection, according to the Ear Surgery Information Center.

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Full Answer

The earlobes are considered a high-risk area for skin cancer, as reported by the Skin Cancer Foundation. The high risk of developing skin cancer on the earlobes is attributed to their location on the body, neglect of the ears by most people when applying sunscreen and to the difficulty of adequately covering the earlobes with sunscreen due to their complex folds and ridges. Tumors are most common on the front and upper part of the earlobe, though the development of skin cancers in the pit of the ear near the opening of the ear canal does occur.

Cancers of the middle ear are usually squamous cell carcinomas, according to the Ear Surgery Information Center. The rarity and location of these tumors means that they are often well-advanced before they are discovered. However, intermittent bleeding and drainage from the ear may be an early sign of cancers of the middle ear. Most patients with middle ear cancers also usually suffer profound hearing loss as a result of the tumor.

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