State of the art in temporal bone malignancies

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Purpose of review

To discuss the histological variants, tumor staging, work up and the latest trends in the treatment of malignancies of the temporal bone.

Recent findings

Because of the rarity of this subset of tumors, there has been no serious attempt to study tumor histologies of the temporal bone other than the squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs). The modified Pittsburgh tumor staging, though popularly used, was primarily developed only for SCC of the external auditory canal. Recent studies have shown that this staging is not without faults. There is also divergence of opinions regarding the surgical procedures to be adopted in treating temporal bone carcinomas. Moreover, the role of radiotherapy and chemotherapy has not been clearly defined.


In this review, we analyzed all the histological varieties of tumors that can arise from the temporal bone and classified them. The merits and demerits of the modified Pittsburgh tumor staging has been discussed outlining the need for further refining this system. The surgical approaches and their applications with respect to the extent of the tumor have been defined. The role of parotidectomy, neck dissection and adjuvant radiotherapy has been discussed.

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