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Parotid Gland Tumor

Published on Feb 26, 2022 and last reviewed on Dec 23, 2022   -  5 min read


Parotid gland tumors can cause chewing and swallowing problems. Read this article to know more.

Parotid Gland Tumor

What Is Parotid Gland?

The parotid gland is one of the major salivary glands present in humans. Generally, there are two types of salivary glands. They are categorized as major and minor glands. This parotid gland is present on both sides of the mouth. In total they are two in number, and it is exactly located in the front of the ears. Out of all the salivary glands, the parotid gland is anatomically large when compared to others. Each parotid gland is provided with a duct called parotid duct. The parotid gland plays an important role in draining the secretions into the oral cavity with the help of the parotid duct. This secretion primarily includes saliva. The parotid gland is provided with nerve supply, blood supply, and lymphatic drainage.

What Is a Parotid Gland Tumor?

There are several health problems associated with the parotid gland. One of the serious problems in the parotid gland is a cancerous condition called parotid gland tumors. The occurrence of tumors in the parotid gland can be either benign or malignant. Parotid gland tumors include any abnormal development of cells in the parotid gland. The vital functions of the parotid gland are drastically reduced in the case of tumors. Out of all the salivary gland tumors, a tumor in the parotid gland is very common. This tumor most commonly reduces the swelling that is prominently noticeable in the face. This might be accompanied by several abnormal symptoms. The treatment for parotid gland tumors focuses on surgical methods.

What Are the Causes of Parotid Gland Tumors?

Genetic mutation is the main cause of the occurrence of parotid gland tumors. A familial history can also lead to parotid gland tumors. In some patients, exposure to chemical carcinogens can also be the cause.

What Are the Symptoms of Parotid Gland Tumors?

The symptoms for parotid gland tumors include the following;

What Are the Risk Factors of Parotid Gland Tumors?

Risk factors help in refraining from certain habits. It also serves as an awareness zone so that the person who is affected by that particular cancer will be more cautious. The risk factor is only a general observation, and it does not necessarily mean that it will contribute a risky element for sure. The various possible risk factors associated with parotid gland tumors are:

  • Male Gender: There is a common identification in medical researchers that women are more prone to problems in the salivary glands. In act, several normal physiological changes in the women are known to reduce the salivary flow from the parotid gland after the women reach menopause age. But, this general rule is not applicable for salivary gland tumors. Men are affected more by this condition when compared to women.

  • Older People: Irrespective of the gender, both males and females who belong to the older age, are at higher risk of parotid gland tumors. This might specifically include individuals more than 50 years of age.

  • Family History: If a particular member has a parotid gland tumor in the family, then they are usually having a possibility of transmitting the condition to their upcoming generations. The patients who are suspected of having a parotid gland tumor should be thoroughly estimated for family history.

  • Exposure to Radiation: Patients who have received radiotherapy treatment for the medical conditions for the head and neck region might greatly increase the risk for any type of salivary gland tumor. Since the parotid gland is large and superficial, there is an increased risk for the occurrence of tumors in the parotid gland. This might also include abnormal and excessive exposures to radioactive materials.

  • Consumption of Alcohol: Consumption of alcohol can serve as a minor contributing factor for parotid gland tumors.

  • Usage of Tobacco: Tobacco has an elevated risk of parotid gland tumor when compared to alcohol consumption. Alcohol can affect the internal organs more, whereas cigarettes can directly influence the cells and tissues present in and around the oral cavity.

  • Usage of Mobile Phones: Recent medical reports suggest that people who engage in the usage of mobile phones for a long time suffer at a higher level of risk. Most of the parotid gland tumors that are caused by cell phone exposure were only benign and not malignant.

  • Food Patterns: A food pattern that is very low in consumption of vegetables and rich in animal fat might serve as a risk factor for parotid gland tumors. As much evidence does not support this fact, several other types of research are required to understand the correlation between parotid gland tumors and the diet.

How Are Parotid Gland Tumors Diagnosed?

The diagnosis for tumors in the parotid gland might include the following.

  • Clinical Examination: The doctor will perform a clinical examination to check the presence of any swelling or lump in the throat and neck region. The jaws will also be thoroughly diagnosed.

  • Imaging Techniques: Based on the size and nature of the tumor, the doctor will recommend the patient to go for imaging techniques like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan, Computed Tomography (CT) scan, and ultrasound.

  • Biopsy: Biopsy is a procedure that involves the collection of a sample tissue for the purpose of testing the cells present in the tumor. A core needle biopsy or fine-needle aspiration might be suggested by the doctor.

What Are the Treatment Options for the Parotid Gland?

Based on the diagnosis report, the doctor will suggest a treatment plan for parotid gland tumors. The most successful treatment option for parotid gland tumors is surgery. The different treatment options are described below.

  • Superficial Parotidectomy: This is a surgical method in which a part of the parotid gland is removed. In addition to this, certain healthy tissues surrounded by the parotid gland will also be surgically removed.

  • Total Parotidectomy: Total parotidectomy is a surgical method in which the surgeon will completely remove the parotid gland. This method is suitable only for very large tumors. The doctor will also recommend this procedure if weaker parts of the tissues are involved.

  • Extensive Surgery: If the parotid gland has involved surrounding muscles and bones, an extensive surgical operation is required.

Other treatment options might include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and targeted drug therapy are recommended.

What Are the Other Types of Salivary Gland Tumors?

It is very important to understand a little about other salivary gland tumors because there is a chance for misinterpretation or misdiagnosis. The other types of salivary gland tumors are listed below:

  • Clear cell carcinoma.

  • Basal cell adenocarcinoma.

  • Sebaceous adenocarcinoma.

  • Cystadenocarcinoma.

  • Metastasizing mixed tumors.

  • Mucinous adenocarcinoma

  • Sebaceous lymph adenocarcinoma.

  • Carcinosarcoma.

  • Carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma.

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Last reviewed at:
23 Dec 2022  -  5 min read




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