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What to know about ear cancers

Every year, in Mississippi and throughout the U.S., about 300 people are diagnosed with ear cancer. This rare cancer usually begins as skin cancer, but as for how it originates, doctors are unsure. Ear cancer is likelier to arise, though, in those who are light-skinned, expose their skin excessively to the sun or have frequent ear infections.

There are several types of ear cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common, and it affects the squamous cells, which lie on the outer part of the epidermis. If it affects the ear’s outer cartilage, there’s a 15% chance of it spreading to the ear canal and inner ear. Basal cell carcinoma also affects the outer layer of the epidermis but is less likely to spread.

Less common but more aggressive is melanoma. Melanomas of the ear constitute 1% of all melanoma cases. This cancer is usually triggered by continual sun exposure, and it tends to brown the affected skin. Growths in the salivary glands called adenoid cystic carcinomas can also be seen from time to time in the ear.

Ear cancer symptoms range from scaly patches on the outer ear to a bloody discharge from the ear. Ear cancers can be cut out though reconstructive surgery might be necessary afterwards depending on the size of the tumor.

As with any cancer, early detection is key to survivial. Those with a long-term ear infection will want to see a specialist right away. Sometimes, however, patients can be vigilant and yet be the victims of medical negligence. Under medical malpractice law, they may be eligible for compensation if the error, be it a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis, causes them to undergo unnecessary treatments and suffer in preventable ways. They could consider seeing a lawyer about their options.

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