Primary cancers of the ear canal are rare; however, when they do occur, basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) are the typical culprits. Cancers involving the outer ear (pinna) are more common and arise due to sun exposure (especially common in the desert Southwest). Dermatologists typically manage routine skin cancers of the outer ear; however, large tumors require multi-disciplinary care including a neurotologist.
BCCs and SCCs arising in the temporal bone (ear canal) occur spontaneously and can spread quickly to adjacent areas like the parotid gland (salivary gland anterior to the ear canal), the neck (inferior to the ear canal), the middle ear (deep/medial to the ear canal) or the mastoid (posterior to the ear canal). Significant delays in treatment can result in metastases to other locations throughout the body.
If ear cancer is suspected, a biopsy of the lesion is performed to confirm the diagnosis. Imaging studies such as temporal bone CT scans, PET scans, and/or MRI scans with internal auditory canal protocol may be ordered to determine the extent of the cancer. Rarely, CT, MRI or catheter-based angiograms are necessary to evaluate blood supply to the tumor as well as integrity of the carotid artery. When possible, a comprehensive audiogram (hearing test) is obtained to document pre-treatment hearing levels.
Cancers of the ear canal are managed aggressively with temporal bone surgery, radiation therapy and sometimes chemotherapy. A multidisciplinary approach to treatment, including neurotologist, head and neck oncologic surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist and sometimes neurosurgeon is required. This sort of comprehensive care is rarely available outside of university-based cancer centers.
Why Choose Us
- Dr. Abraham Jacob, Medical Director for Ear & Hearing (E&H) at the Center for Neurosciences (CNS), is fellowship trained in Otology, Neurotology, and Cranial Base Surgery. He is the first and most experienced Neurotologist recruited to Southern Arizona.
- Dr. Jacob was a founding member of the University of Arizona (UA) Department of Otolaryngology prior to his departure and transition to CNS. At UA, he was Vice Chair of ENT and held the rank of full Professor with Tenure.
- Dr. Jacob transitioned his practice to the Center for Neurosciences in early 2017 as he felt that the new environment helped to optimize delivery of personalized ear and lateral skull base care.
- Dr. Jacob performed more temporal bone resections than any other ENT surgeon in Southern Arizona. Experience matters when it comes to optimizing outcomes! Don’t settle for 2nd best; seek a referral to Ear & Hearing at the Center for Neurosciences.
Ear & Hearing Appointments
Our Otologist/Neurotologist specializes in the medical and surgical care of patients with disorders of the ear and lateral skull base. Otology/Neurotology and Audiology work together to offer complete hearing health solutions.
To schedule an appointment with our Ear & Hearing department, please call us at (520) 795-7750.
Our Physicians’ Goal
Our physicians’ goal is to provide the highest-quality neurological care– the same level of care we would want for ourselves or our loved ones.
We will help our patients to understand their condition, listen to their concerns, answer their questions, and provide the best clinical treatment available.