Located near the ear, the parotid glands account for the vast majority of tumors in the salivary glands. As approximately twenty percent of parotid tumors turn out to be cancerous, a mass located near the ear, cheek, jaw, lip or inside the mouth requires immediate medical attention.
An overview of Parotid and Salivary Gland Tumors
Although benign (non-cancerous) and cancerous tumors can develop anywhere within the salivary glands, the majority of them are parotid tumors. In fact, as many as eighty percent of salivary gland tumors originate in the parotid glands, while fifteen percent occur in the submandibular glands and only five percent form in the sublingual and minor glands.
The vast majority of benign parotid tumors are Pleomorphic Adenomas, also known as Benign Mixed Tumors. This specific type of tumor has a tendency to grow over time and has a ten percent chance of becoming cancerous if left untreated for more than fifteen years. For this reason, when patients of the CENTER are diagnosed with Pleomorphic Adenoma, Dr. Larian will commonly recommend parotid tumor surgery, the surgical removal of the tumor and parotid gland, along with ongoing monitoring to prevent further complications.
Types of Benign Parotid Tumors
This type of tumor accounts for the vast majority of all parotid tumors. Although pleomorphic adenomas most commonly occur in the parotid gland, they may also affect the submandibular, lingual and minor salivary glands. Because pleomorphic adenomas tend to grow over time and may become cancerous, they require immediate medical attention.
A benign tumor of the salivary glands, Warthin's Tumor presents as a slow-growing, painless mass, and primarily affects older individuals. In some cases, this type of tumor may affect both sides of the face.
Types of Cancerous Tumors
The most common type of salivary gland cancer in adults, Mucoepidermoid Carcinoma is an abnormal growth of tissues resulting from the uncontrolled and progressive multiplication of cells serving no physiological function. This particular type of tumor forms as a painless, slow-growing and firm mass. It may go through a phase of accelerated growth, which is often a warning sign that the tumor is becoming more aggressive.
Acinic Cell Carcinoma
A parotid tumor that presents itself as a slow-growing mass, Acinic Cell Carcinoma tumors vary widely in behavior. They can be locally aggressive or blatantly malignant, and they may be associated with pain and tenderness. In rare cases, they can occur on both sides of the face.
Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma
A rare type of cancer, Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma can develop in many different areas of the body, although it most commonly occurs in the salivary glands. A slow-growing tumor, it also has a liking for nerves and tends to use them as pathways to other parts of the body. Early lesions present as painless masses of the mouth or face, while advanced tumors may present with pain and/or nerve paralysis. Early tumors can often be treated and cured with surgical treatment and, at times, post-surgical radiation therapy. However, advanced tumors are difficult to cure, making early detection and treatment critical.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
The second most common form of non-melanoma skin cancer, advanced cases of Squamous Cell Carcinoma may spread from the skin to the lymph nodes in the parotid glands. In these cases, treatment includes a parotidectomy and possible lymph node dissection, followed by post salivary gland tumor removal and radiation therapy to both the parotid gland and the area of the original skin cancer.
This type of cancer originates as a benign parotid tumor called Pleomorphic Adenoma. Over time, benign pleomorphic adenomas grow larger and have a ten percent chance of turning into a malignancy at fifteen years. Signals of a malignant transformation include facial weakness, pain, rapid growth, facial numbness and skin invasion and fixation to the surrounding tissue.
These are very aggressive tumors that are most commonly treated by radical parotid surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Due to the aggressive nature and poor cure rate of Carcinoma Ex-Pleomorphic, Dr. Larian advises his patients to remove benign pleomorphic adenomas to prevent the transformation into cancer. He provides parotid tumor removal, using surgical means.
Metastasis from other cancers
Metastatic cancer is a cancer that originated in one area of the body before spreading to another, such as the parotid gland. Treatment is highly individualized and depends on the cancer's type, size, location and total number of tumors.
Although there is a relatively low incidence of parotid gland lymphoma, it does occasionally occur. In these cases, a parotid surgery is performed to provide a definitive diagnosis, and treatment commonly involves chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Treatment for Cancerous Parotid Tumors
Commonly caused by exposure to radiation, parotid cancer can lead to a host of long-term complications. If left untreated, the cancer can destroy the surrounding tissues and nerves, as well as spread to the lymph nodes and other areas of the body. In advanced cases, pain and facial paralysis may occur -- making early detection especially critical.
When patients of the CENTER require treatment for an abnormal mass located near the parotid gland, Dr. Larian will begin by performing a needle biopsy and MRI scan to determine if the growth is cancerous. From there, he will compose a comprehensive treatment plan to successfully resolve the disease.
If the removal of the gland is necessary to eliminate the cancer, patients of the CENTER can rest assured that they are in highly capable hands. With decades of experience and countless successful procedures, Dr. Larian and his team of specialists have developed a reputation for providing the best parotid tumor treatment available.
Meet The Team
Led by board-certified parotid surgeon, Dr. Babak Larian, our team of specialists has decades of experience successfully diagnosing and treating diseases of the parotid glands with minimally invasive procedures. Distinguished by our compassionate care and cutting-edge techniques, the CENTER has developed a reputation for delivering the best parotid tumor surgery available.
Learn More >>
Request your consultation today
Call us at (310) 461-0300 to schedule an appointment.
Schedule a Consultation >>