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Ear wax or ear cancer?

On Behalf of | Dec 9, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

Most lumps or rough spots in the ear canal are caused by bits of hardened ear wax. However, in rare cases, they could be a symptom of ear melanomas or carcinomas. It’s important for Massachusetts readers to know the signs of ear cancer so that they understand when it’s necessary to seek medical treatment.

Ear cancer

Most cases of ear cancer begin as skin cancer on the outer ear. If left untreated, it can spread down the ear canal to the eardrum and other structures of the inner ear. In extremely rare cases, it can begin in the inner ear and invade the temporal bone inside the ear and the mastoid bone behind the ear. According to the National Cancer Institute, around 300 people are diagnosed with ear cancer each year. Some of the symptoms of outer ear cancer include:

  • Red or sore spots on the skin that last more than 30 days
  • Bleeding sores on the skin
  • Moles that grow, change colors, become itchy or start bleeding

Inner ear cancer may not manifest on the outside of the ear. Some of the symptoms of inner ear cancer include:

  • Bloody discharge from ear canal
  • Earache
  • Swelling in lymph nodes of the neck
  • Hearing loss
  • Dizziness
  • Headache

Skin cancer of the ear can be caused by basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma attacks basal cells in the epidermis and forms crusty ulcers that do not heal. Squamous cell carcinoma attacks squamous cells in the epidermis and forms ulcers or cauliflower-like growths. Melanoma attacks melanocyte cells in the epidermis and often forms from existing moles. Of the three types, melanoma is the most aggressive and deadly.

Medical malpractice and ear cancer

It is imperative for ear cancer patients to get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Any delays can allow the cancer to spread and diminish the chances of survival. Victims of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis might have grounds to file a medical malpractice case against the doctor who made the mistake. A personal injury attorney may review a victim’s case and determine the best possible course of legal action.