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Salivary Gland Tumors

Salivary gland tumors present as painless masses in the salivary glands – either in front of the ear in the case of a parotid tumor, below the jaw in the case of a submandibular tumor, or in the mouth or throat in case of a sublingual or minor salivary gland tumor.  Salivary gland tumors are benign, or non-cancerous growths that are often removed without further need for treatment. 

The most common salivary gland tumor is a pleomorphic adenoma, which most commonly occurs in the parotid gland.  Like most salivary gland tumors it presents as a slow growing painless mass.  Diagnosis is made with fine needle aspiration, and treatment involves removal of the entire mass.  If left untreated a pleomorphic adenoma has a small percentage of becoming an ex-pleomorphic adenoma, which is a malignant condition.

Warthin’s tumor is a salivary gland tumor which most commonly occurs in the parotid gland.  Warthin’s tumor almost exclusively occurs in male smokers – however this is not a cancerous lesion.  Warthin’s tumor may occur in both salivary glands, and even occur in multiple locations within the parotid glands. A brown fluid normally is seen within Warthin’s tumor.  Treatment is excision of the mass.

Other less common benign salivary gland tumors may occur throughout the oral cavity or in the submandibular glands.  Treatment is most often excision.  Imaging ,such as CT, may be ordered before surgery to help demarcate the lesion. 

If you have a salivary gland tumor, please  contact Dr. William Armstrong or Dr. Sunil Verma for evaluation.