Parotid tumors

Parotid tumors are abnormal growths of tumoral cells (tumors) that form in the parotid glands. They are mainly two salivary glands that sit just in front and below each ear on either side of the face. The salivary glands produce saliva to aid in chewing and digesting food. More glands are found in the lip, the cheeks, the mouth and the throat
Tumoral cells can be found in any of the salivary glands but the parotid glands are the most common location for the tumors. Those glands are found in the lips, the mouth, the cheek and the throat. Tumors seen in those glands are generally benign (non-cancerous) but occasionally can become cancerous. The face or the jaw can be swollen but generally will not present with any pain and discomfort. Numbness or burning sensation or even paralysis or loss of motion can be seen with such tumors. Surgical treatment is often the treatment of choice to restore function or to remove the tumoral cells in order to assert a diagnosis…

Salivary glands responsible for the production of saliva

A physical examination to evaluate the jaw, neck and the throat for any lump or swelling will be require. If a mass is discovered, a needle biopsy through a fine needle aspiration or a core needle aspiration can be performed to get a sample of tissue for analysis. The specimen is sent to the lab to determine the type of cells involved. Are they tumoral cells? Showing a benign or a malignant process will determine the benignity or the malignity of the cells.

Imaging testing may be indicated prior to perform a biopsy or any definitive procedures. Is the mass localized or multilobulated or metastatic, the size of the lesion, the consistency of the lesion, the presence of fluid or calcifications etc. Ultrasound, MRI and CT scan are often used in the diagnosis of such lesions.

A tumor of the parotid gland may require surgical treatment consisting in remove the parotid gland or cutting away the tumor from the gland in a partial or subtotal parotidectomy or can remove the entire gland in a total; parotidectomy. More extensive surgical treatment may be needed for larger benign or malignant tumors but often a reconstruction may be needed to allow the patient to continue chewing, swallowing, speaking, move the side of the face and even breathe. Skin flaps may be needed to cover the area of tumoral excision as well as a bony reconstruction may become necessary to reconstruct the anatomy of the area.

Generally, an incision is made near the ear while special care is taken to avoid injuring vital structures such as the facial nerve which control facial motion. Such injury will be debilitating because it will cause a complete paralysis of the side of thee face in a temporary or permanent condition. The nerve may be voluntary cut because it needed to be dissected out with the tumor itself but a nerve repair or a nerve transfer may preserve the integrity of the side of the face.

Radiation therapy using beams of energy to distribute X-rays protons, or neutrons to shrink or kill the tumor cells. These techniques may be provided when surgery is not an option but can also be offered to kill tumoral cells after surgical treatment was performed.

Chemotherapy is also finally offered to kill cancer cells but are not routinely used in the treatment of parotid tumors. But more often, it can be combined with radiation therapy when a tumor has the potential in spreading or in any other tumors unable to be resected or in a stage of advanced parotid malignancy that has already spread to other parts of the body.

I just wanted to touch superficially the topic

Maxime Coles MD
Boca Raton FL, 12-20-202

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