Treatment Strategies for Malignancies of the External Auditory Canal

Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2022 Jan;23(1):43-53. doi: 10.1007/s11864-021-00931-3. Epub 2022 Feb 15.


Malignant tumors of the external auditory canal (EAC) are rare tumors in the head and neck. Delayed diagnosis is not uncommon because the symptoms of early tumors are nonspecific. Various surgical and oncological treatment modalities have been reported. Decision-making depends on pathological feature and stage of the lesions, patient's general condition and preference, and physician's experience and skill. Radical surgery is widely accepted as the primary treatment of choice. Postoperative radiotherapy is used more often to improve local and regional control of the disease. Chemotherapy is usually recommended for advanced disease, residual disease, and metastasis. Prognosis is affected by multiple factors such as TNM stage, surgical margin, pathological type and differentiation of tumor, involvement of facial nerve, and so on. Although the survival rate is improved significantly over the past several decades with the development of skull base surgery, neuroradiology, anesthesiology, and oncology, it remains challenging to diagnose and treat EAC malignancies due to the rarity, the local anatomical complexity of temporal bone, and the lack of standard TNM staging system.

Keywords: Cancer; External auditory canal; Radiotherapy; Squamous cell carcinoma; Surgical management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / pathology
  • Ear Canal / pathology
  • Ear Canal / surgery
  • Ear Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Ear Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Ear Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome