Skin cancer often develops on sun-exposed areas of the body, including the ears as well as the face, neck, chest, hands, arms and legs. Skin cancer that develops on the ear can take various forms. Although fair-skinned people have a higher risk of skin cancer, people of all skin tones may be affected, MayoClinic.com notes 1. Skin cancers may be easier to spot on the face or chest, but simple examination of the ears helps avoid problems from this treatable condition.
Basal Cell Signs
Basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer, may affect the ears. It may appear as a flesh-colored, pearl-like bump or a pink patch of skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The marks may also appear as flat or brownish lesions. It usually takes a long time for basal cell carcinomas to grow or spread to other parts of the body. People who find these suspicious spots should see a doctor for examination or prompt treatment. Although it grows slowly, basal cell carcinoma can invade surrounding tissues and get into nerves and bone, leading to possible damage and disfigurement. Doctors can easily remove basal cell carcinomas, usually in the office, when treated early.
Squamous Cell Signs
Squamous cell carcinomas may develop on the ears. Squamous cell cancer, the second most common type of skin cancer, may appear as reddish, hard bumps or scaly patches. They may look like ulcers that heal and open again or develop as flat lesions with crusted surfaces. Basal cell carcinomas can grow deep in the skin and threaten to damage or disfigure skin tissue. Early treatment prevents the spread and damage.
Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, can appear anywhere on the body, including the ears 2. Sun exposure may not even play a role in the development of this cancer. Examination by a doctor is essential for people who notice suspicious moles, spots or growths. Advances in medical techniques have bettered the prognoses for those with melanoma, as long as treatment begins early. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends the ABCDE method of spotting melanoma 2. This method refers to asymmetry, border, color, diameter and evolving when looking for warning signs. Melanoma may appear asymmetrical with half of a mole looking different than the other half. Growths that have uneven or notched borders may signal melanoma. A mole may vary in color, being brown, black, red or blue. Melanomas are usually more than ¼-inch in diameter, or larger than the size of a pencil eraser. Moles that evolve and change in size, shape or color, or start bleeding or crusting indicate melanoma.
- ear image by Dubravko Grakalic from Fotolia.com