Parotid gland tumor

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Parotid gland tumor

Question

Can parotid tumors be cancerous?

Betty
Nebraska

Answer

Most parotid gland tumors are noncancerous (benign). These tumors grow very slowly and usually cause no problems. But about 20 percent to 25 percent of these tumors are cancerous (malignant). The parotid glands, which are located below and in front your ears, are the largest of the major salivary glands.

Factors that increase your risk of parotid gland cancer include:

  • Prior radiation therapy to the jaw or neck area
  • Tobacco use, including smokeless (spit or chewing) tobacco

The only way to determine if a parotid gland tumor is cancerous is a biopsy. Treatment of a cancerous parotid tumor may include:

  • Surgical removal of the tumor
  • Radiation therapy

Salivary glands

Illustration of salivary glands

The salivary glands, which secrete saliva, are found in and around your nose and throat. The three major salivary glands are the parotid, submandibular and sublingual glands.

Last Updated: 11/29/2005
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