Ceruminous gland tumors arise in the external auditory canal (EAC) from specialized glands that are closely related to apocrine glands,
which are found in the axillae, anogenital area, areolae, and eyelids (glands of Moll). These external ear glands contribute material that combines with sebaceous gland products and desquamated epithelial cells to produce a waxy substance known as cerumen (from Latin cēra “wax”).
Like other apocrine-related glands, including mammary tissue, ceruminous glands are composed of an inner secretory layer of cells and an outer myoepithelial layer of cells. The glands drain into larger ducts, which, in turn, drain into hair follicles that populate the EAC.
Tumors that likely derive from the ceruminous glands include benign tumors, such as ceruminous adenoma, ceruminous pleomorphic adenoma, and ceruminous syringocystadenoma papilliferum, as well as malignant tumors, such as ceruminous adenocarcinoma, adenoid cystic carcinoma, and, mucoepidermoid carcinoma.