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Parotid adenoma


The parotid adenoma is a benign tumor of the parotid gland, which is the largest of the salivary glands, located behind the rising part of the lower jaw, below the ear. There is often talk of pleomorphic adenoma with regards to this disease. This tumor affects mostly women (3 females for every 1 male) around 50 years of age and is the most common of salivary tumors, representing two thirds of the total. In rare cases (less than 5% of salivary tumors), the tumor is cancerous and is called an adenoid carcinoma.


With a tumor that is more or less voluminous, the discovery of the parotid adenoma can be done by the patient or doctor that notices the presence of a mass under the skin. The diagnosis can be confirmed by imaging (ultrasound, CT or MRI), puncture cytology, or examination of the removed piece by exploratory surgery, all in order to differentiate between pleomorphic adenoma and carcinoma. The pleomorphic adenoma can sometimes develop into a malignant tumor.


The pleomorphic adenoma isn't usually responsible for many symptoms apart from a palpable mass under the skin. It is especially never responsible for facial paralysis by compression of the facial nerve, contrary to malignant tumors of the parotid gland. In case of carcinoma, local lymphadenopathy can also be found, as well as pain when chewing, a function that generally declines with the disease.


The treatment of a pleomorphic adenoma of the parotid gland is surgical. This is to ablate the tumor via an operation called total parotidectomy. Monitoring over several years to prevent recurrence is recommended. The operation, however, is rendered difficult by the presence of a branch of the facial nerves in this gland, and can often lead to transient facial paralysis. For the treatment of a malignant tumor, a total parotidectomy with facial nerve ablation is performed.

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