The term cancer, implies uncontrolled growth of cells in the human body. Any cell or group of cells displaying such characteristics are termed as 'cancerous' cells. These cells spread across the human body in three different mediums and tend to affect other cells, tissues and organs.
- Uncontrolled Growth: An uncontrolled growth is said to have occurred when cells divide at an enormous pace, thereby plaguing other cells and tissues around them.
- Invasion: Cells that display cancerous characteristics have uncontrolled growth in terms of size and numbers. These cells literally invade tissues and organs around them.
- Spread: The cancerous cells sometimes also spread to other locations of the body through the medium of blood and lymph.
There are variable reasons that cause such cancerous growth. At times, cancer is hereditary, as the nature of cells is passed from one generation to another. Infections, tobacco smoke and radiation are other prominent causes of cancer. There are many different types of cancers depending upon the tissues and organs that they affect, such as breast cancer, skin cancer, heart cancer, head and neck cancer. Ear cancer, which is a rare type of cancer, occurs inside the inner ear and sometimes even on outer ear.
What is Ear Cancer
Ear cancer is observed both in the inner ear and on the outer ear, in the form of tumors and abnormal growth. These cancerous cells are medically termed as squamous cell carcinoma. Often Basal cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma, which are types of skin cancers, appear on the skin of the ear and are mistaken for cancer or tumors. Cancer experts, surgeons and physicians are able to spot the difference between skin and tumors.
Types of Ear Cancer
Tumors are not restricted to one part of the ear. They can be observed in different parts, where depending on the condition, cancerous cells depict different behavior. Cures and symptoms thus vary according to the type.
- External Ear Cancer: External ear cancer appears in the form of progressive ulcer. Usually this kind of cancer starts off as a skin cancer but tends to invade further into the ear. There have also cases where the invasion has reached the brain. Sometimes, it is seen in the form of a patch of crusty skin. This cancer appears on the upper edge of outer ear and can be treated with help of surgery. It must be noted that skin cancer affecting the ear sometimes also appears on the Helix (top most part of the ear).
- Ear Canal Cancer: Ear canal cancer appears in the ear canal, especially on the outer parts. This type of cancer also appears in the interiors of the ear canal, in the form of a tumor. Ear canal cancer, which is in the initial stages, can be treated with a surgery known as Mastoidectomy.
- Middle Ear Cancer: Ear cancer also appears in the middle ear. This type of cancer is especially painful as there is prominent blood discharge and deafness. The tumor appears at the entrance of ear canal. It can be treated with the help of biopsy and surgery. The Glomus tumor is a type of tumor which is seen in the middle ear which depicts progressive growth.
Cancer of Skin inside the Ear
Apart from the aforementioned locations, there are several more types of cancers that affect the ear. Now, these cancers are principally ear or skin cancers however they appear on or inside the ear and are hence also considered to be ear cancers.
- Basal-Cell Carcinoma: The Basal-cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. It can also affect the skin (inside portion or outside portion) of the ear. A small bump, nodule or a fleshy upheaval on the ear's rim is one of the initial symptoms. There are several further sub-types of the Basal-cell carcinoma depending upon the cancer's nature and spread. Such a cancer when detected in early stages can be treated successfully.
- Squamous-Cell Skin Cancers: Again just like the Basal-cell carcinoma, this kind of cancer is a skin cancer, and is a little bit more aggressive, but it is treatable. The symptoms are more pronounced and include, nodules, scaly and red skin and ulcers on the ear, particularly the rim. This cancer spreads to other parts of the body and similar symptoms can also be seen on the face, on places such as mouth and areas surrounding the lips. Squamous cell cancer can also occur inside the ear. Usually malignant (dangerous and affecting the health) tumors are observed in the middle ear and the Mastoid bone which is also inside the ear. Chronic inflammation or infection may cause such tumors.
- Melanoma: Now this one is a rare one. Melanocytes are cells which form a particular layer on the skin. These cells are also found in the inner ear's skin. In the conditions melanoma also known as (cutaneous melanoma or malignant melanoma), the cancer cells develop in the melanocytes. This kind is especially dangerous, as it gravely injures the cells and tissues around it. Another significant problem it is difficult to detect melanoma occurring inside ear, the symptoms such as change in color and pattern of skin is simply absent.
The symptoms differ from type to type. The following are some of the common ear cancer signs that occur in initial stages of cancer.
- Emergence of tumor or progressive ulcer
- Swelling or lump on neck
- Ear ache
- Hearing loss
- Discharge from ear often full of blood
- Facial paralysis in rare cases
- Ringing sensation in the ear
Remedies and Cures
There are 3 prominent remedies that can be used to cure ear cancer.
- Surgery: Surgery is a remedy that is often used in the initial stages. The surgeon literally cuts out and totally removes the cells and tissues that depict cancerous behavior.
- Radiation: In case where the cancerous cells have started spreading, radiation can be used very effectively. Radioactive rays having a high volume of energy, are directed into the ear, in order to kill cancerous cells.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a method of treatment, where drugs are used to kill cancerous cells that have started spreading. This remedy is used as last option as it severely affects the patient's health.
The biggest drawback of this cancer is that the symptoms are mistaken for other ailments. Hence, it is extremely important that one consults a physician and a cancer specialist, right after the symptoms occur.