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Merck Manual

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Quick Facts

Ear Tumors


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Apr 2020| Content last modified Apr 2020
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What are ear tumors?

Ear tumors are growths on the outside of your ear or inside your ear canal. The ear canal is the tube that connects the outside of your ear to your eardrum.

  • Ear tumors can be cancerous or noncancerous

  • Noncancerous tumors that grow in your ear canal can cause ear blockages, hearing loss, and a buildup of earwax

  • Sometimes, noticing you can’t hear as well as usual is the first sign of an ear tumor

  • Doctors may see your tumor when they look in your ear

  • Cancerous tumors include skin cancers that can happen in and around your ear

The Outer Ear

The Outer Ear

Noncancerous ear tumors

Noncancerous (benign) tumors that can grow on your ear and in your ear canal include:

  • Cysts (small sacs filled with fluid)

  • Bone tumors

Doctors will do surgery to remove a growth that blocks your ear or causes hearing loss.

Cancerous ear tumors

Cancerous ear tumors can be:

  • Cancer in the cells that make earwax

  • Skin cancers, which can be on your ear or in your ear canal

Skin cancers that can affect the ear include:

To treat skin cancer on your ear, doctors may do:

  • Surgery

  • Radiation therapy (a type of treatment that shrinks tumors and destroys cancer cells)

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