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Ear Cancer

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What is Ear Cancer?

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Ear cancer often begins outside of the ear as skin cancer/melanoma and spreads internally within the ear to form cancer. It can affect the ear both internally and externally. Internally the cancer can spread to a variety of structures in the ear such as the ear canal and the eardrum. It is a rare form of cancer.

There are four types of ear cancer:

  • Melanoma.
  • Basal cell cancer.
  • Adenoid Cystic.
  • Adenocarcinoma.

Different parts of the ear will exhibit different symptoms. However, the three parts of the ear are the inner, middle and outer.

Ear Cancer



  • Less than one in a million people in the UK will develop cancer in the middle of the ear every year.
  • Around 5,000 cases of ear cancer are reported every year.


Cancer cells may manifest in the ear and surrounding skin without any direct causes. However there are certain things which can trigger this:

  • Being light-skinned – Having paler skin increases the risk of skin cancer which may spread to the ear.
  • Spending time in the sun (without protection from UV rays) – This puts you at greater risk of skin cancer, which can spread to the ear.
  • Having numerous ear infections– The inflammatory reactions that accompany ear infections can have an effect on cellular changes which may then prompt cancer.
  • Being older – Certain types of ear cancer happen to affect older people much more than younger generations. A study found that developing squamous cell carcinoma of the temporal bone was the most common in people over 70.


There are different symptoms for different locations of the ear which the cancer has affected.

Inner ear:

  • Dizziness.
  • Loss of hearing.
  • Ear pain.
  • Ringing in the ears.
  • Headaches.

Middle ear:

  • Discharge from the ear.
  • Numbness of the head on the affected side.
  • Ear pain.
  • Hearing loss.

Outer ear:

  • Scaly patches on the skin that linger even after moisturising.
  • Pearly white lumps under the skin.
  • Skin ulcers that bleed.




  • Biopsy- Removing a small piece of the supposedly affected area, most likely a tumour, and testing it for cancerous cells
  • CT scan- Computerised tomography scans can be used to detect the cancer in the ear
  • MRI scan- Magnetic resonance imaging can be used to detect the cancer similarly to CT scans


Treatment of ear cancer fully depends on:

  • The size and spread of the cancer.
  • The type of ear cancer.
  • Where in the ear the cancer has developed.
  • Your general health.

Types of treatment for ear cancer:

  • Surgery– Depending on how far the ear cancer has spread, surgery can be done to remove the affected areas and stop the spread of the cancer. The surgeon may remove your ear canal, part or all of the temporal bone, the middle ear or the inner ear.
  • Radiotherapy– Radiotherapy uses high doses of radiation rays in order to destroy cancerous cells in the body. Radiotherapy can be used as a form of main treatment, or after surgery if the surgeon wasn’t able to remove the entirety of the affected area.
  • Chemotherapy- Chemotherapy isn’t effective for treating ear cancer when used on its own, but has proved a useful form of treatment when paired with radiotherapy (chemoradiotherapy).

There aren’t any statistics for non-melanoma skin cancer (usually the starting point of ear cancer) but the chances of survival are generally good as there are effective treatment methods.



How Do I Make a Claim?

If you feel that your diagnosis has been delayed or that your treatment has been inappropriate, you may be entitled to bring about a claim. The team at Oakwood Solicitors will be able to give you free advice on the prospects of your case and whether you would be eligible to make a claim.

Who Can Bring About a Claim?

The victim of the negligence can bring about a claim in their own right. However, it is often sadly the case that the victim is either unable to bring about a claim or has sadly passed away.

In such circumstances, a claim can be brought about on their behalf either by an appropriate person or friend if the victim is still with us, or by the executor of the estate of a surviving dependant if the victim has passed.

Our specialist team will be able to discuss whether you have a right to bring about a claim – so if you or a loved one has been affected, do not hesitate to contact us.

How Long Do I Have to Claim?

Claims of this nature are subject to a three year limitation period. This means claims must be commenced within the Courts in three years of either the date the negligent act occurred or the date you became aware that negligence had occurred.

In cases involving deceased victims, this limitation period commences from the date of death and in cases involving minors, the limitation period starts when they reach their 18th birthday.

The law surrounding limitation periods is complex – our specialist team will be able to advise further.

How Long Will My Case Take to Run?

Given the complexities involved in pursuing Clinical Negligence claims, they can often take 18-24 months to conclude and longer if Court proceedings have to be issued.   Our investigations start by obtaining all relevant records and protocols before approaching independent medical experts for their opinion.  We will provide you with regular updated on the progress of your case to ensure that you are kept up to speed.

How Much is My Claim Worth?

It is often difficult to value Clinical Negligence claims at their outset, given the complexities involved. However, we will pursue two forms of compensation for you:

  • General damages – An award of money for the pain and suffering you have endured as a result of the negligence.
  • Special damages – An award of money for all of your out-of-pocket expenses, such as travel, medication costs, loss of earnings, and treatment costs both past and future. This list is not exhaustive and is very case specific.

Oakwood Solicitors Ltd


Why Use Oakwood Solicitors To Make Your Clinical Negligence Case?

We have a dedicated team of solicitors and paralegals who have many years’ experience between them in running cases of this nature. They are highly trained to deal with all aspects of clinical negligence.

We want to ensure that clients are not overwhelmed by legal jargon, medical terms that they don’t understand and aim to allow the claims procedure to be as transparent as possible.

How is My Case Funded?

The majority of Clinical Negligence cases are funded by a Conditional Fee Agreement, more commonly known as a ‘no-win, no-fee’ agreement. This means that there will be nothing to pay up front and nothing to pay if the claim has been lost. If you are successful in your claim, a deduction of 25% of damages will be taken to cover the success fee and the shortfall in legal fees.

It may also be the case that an After The Event (ATE) insurance policy will be obtained to cover the costs of expensive medical reports and investigations.

If an ATE insurance policy has to be obtained, the cost of the same will be discussed with you at the appropriate point. The cost of the ATE insurance policy is again taken from your damages and only payable if you are successful with your claim.

Charities/Useful Websites

Cancer Research UK



If you have been affected by misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of ear cancer, or require any advice about legal proceedings – get in touch today for a free initial consultation. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you.

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Carol Cook

Head of Department - Medical Negligence

0113 200 9780

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